Japan’s judo king Shohei Ono smashed Azerbaijan’s Rustam Orujov to capture his third world title Tuesday in a carbon copy of their one-sided Olympic final in Rio three years ago.
The 27-year-old, widely regarded as the sport’s best pound-for-pound fighter, showed barely a flicker of emotion after flattening Orujov in the men’s 73-kilogram class in Tokyo with a performance that if anything was even more dominant than Rio.
Elsewhere, Japan-born Christa Deguchi secured Canada’s first judo world title by stunning local favorite and defending champion Tsukasa Yoshida in the women’s 57-kilo final.
But most of the crowd at Tokyo’s iconic Budokan — venue for next year’s Tokyo Olympics and the 1964 Summer Games — came to watch Ono.
The lightweight division’s most fearsome judoka and unbeaten internationally since 2015, Ono underlined that aura of invincibility by brutalising Russian Denis Iartcev in the semifinal.
He stepped it up to another level in the final, unleashing a ferocious throw to beat Orujov and boost his record against the Azerbaijani to five-for-five.
After one aborted attempt, Ono flipped Orujov onto his back with breathtaking ease for his sixth successive victory by ippon — judo’s closest equivalent to a knockout.
As the packed crowd went wild, the Olympic champion bowed politely to the loser before quietly raising his fist in celebration.
Ono’s gold preserved the host nation’s lead at the top of the medals table after Joshiro Maruyama and Uta Abe bagged Japan’s first two titles on Monday.
Japan dominated the 2018 world championships in Baku, capturing eight of the 15 gold medals available, and will be chasing a similar haul at the 2020 Olympics on home soil.
Deguchi pinned Bulgaria’s Ivelina Ilieva in the semifinals but had to dig deep to overcome Yoshida in the championship match.
Bronze medallist last year, the 23-year-old survived a fierce onslaught from the title holder before deftly turning defense into attack by toppling the favorite to produce the upset.
Brazil’s Olympic champion Rafaela Silva and Julia Kowalczyk of Poland claimed bronze medals.
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