Sole ozeki Takakeisho misfired in his opening bout of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday, losing by slap down to komusubi Tobizaru.

Having lost their two most recent meetings, Takakeisho continued to struggle against problem opponent Tobizaru on the first day of the 15-day tournament at Edion Arena Osaka.

Ozeki Takakeisho (L) reacts after losing to komusubi Tobizaru on the first day of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament at Edion Arena Osaka on March 12, 2023. (Kyodo)

The ozeki made a strong opening charge but could not maintain balance as Tobizaru slapped his arms and sent him tumbling face-first at the edge.

"It was a satisfying win," Tobizaru said. "I beat the ozeki, but I want to focus on my sumo and try to win each and every bout."

Coming off his third grand tournament victory in January, Takakeisho is the highest-ranked wrestler in the absence of sole yokozuna Terunofuji. He can secure promotion to sumo's top rank by winning a fourth Emperor's Cup this month.

The injury-prone Terunofuji is skipping his third straight 15-day meet in its entirety to focus on recuperating from surgery on both knees last October.

In a day of upsets, Kiribayama was the only one of the three sekiwake to register a win. The Mongolian-born grappler, who is looking to lay the groundwork for an ozeki promotion, made a strong start by pushing out second-ranked maegashira Abi.

Sekiwake Hoshoryu lost his bout against first-ranked maegashira Shodai, who is back among the rank and file following two straight demotions. In an uncharacteristically strong start to a tournament, former ozeki Shodai blasted Hoshoryu backward and pushed him out from the jump.

No. 1 maegashira Tamawashi sprang an upset against sekiwake Wakatakakage, winning a see-sawing battle by slap-down.

With the momentum shifting back and forth, two-time Emperor's Cup winner Tamawashi just stayed inside the ring while executing the winning maneuver.

In the bottom half of the draw, a pair of highly touted newcomers debuted in the elite makuuchi division.

No. 15 Hokuseiho, from the former yokozuna Hakuho's Miyagino stable, was victorious in his top-division debut against No. 15 Oho, getting the result with a force out.

"I got my first victory, so it's a relief," Hokuseiho said.

The first top-division wrestler from Kazakhstan, No. 14 Kinbozan, notched his maiden makuuchi by pushing out fellow debutant Bushozan, also ranked 14th, from behind.

"I was a little nervous, but I think I'll do better from tomorrow," Kinbozan said. "The atmosphere is so different from (the second-tier) juryo division. There are so many more people watching."

Related coverage:

Sumo: Sole yokozuna Terunofuji to skip Osaka tournament

Sumo: Takakeisho vows to stay strong in yokozuna promotion bid

Sumo: Record-setting champion Hakuho emotional in retirement ceremony