March 2017, Day 15, Terunofuji v Kisenosato

It’s simple. If Ozeki Terunofuji wins, he wins the tournament. If Kisenosato wins, they’ll finish tied at 13-2 and the championship will be decided with one playoff bout, which will be held after the last match of the day (which is the following bout, Harumafuji vs Kakuryu). Terunofuji really angered a lot of fans with his arguably cowardly henka yesterday against Kotoshogiku, so if the crowd didn’t need another reason to cheer for the injured, gutsy, newly-promoted Yokozuna Kisenosato, they’ve got one. Kisenosato’s left shoulder and chest are heavily taped, and yesterday against Yokozuna Kakuryu he couldn’t generate any power. After a good stare down, Terunofuji jumps the gun on the tachiai and the ref calls them back. When the bout starts for real, it’s Kisenosato who steps to the side! It’s a clear message to Terunofuji, who has no grounds for complaint. But Terunofuji doesn’t fall down, and the two battle in the center of the dohyo for some kind of advantage. Terunofuji gets the belt first, a strong right-handed overarm grip that capitalizes on Kisenosato’s injured side. Kisenosato can’t fight back, so he retreats. One quick shift of his hips at the edge moves his belt out of Terunofuji’s grasp, and Terunofuji over-commits. He grabs thin air with his right hand and hits the dirt as the crowd goes nuts. Kisenosato accepts a fat stack of cash. Playoff coming!

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