FUKUOKA – Mongolian grand champion Asashoryu toppled injury-hit Futeno on Sunday to stay in the lead with his eighth straight victory at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.
Bulgarian sekiwake Kotooshu, meanwhile, bounced back from a defeat a day earlier with a one-sided victory over Iwakiyama to stay two behind the leader at the 15-day meet.
Asashoryu, who is aiming for an unprecedented seventh straight victory, moved quickly in for the kill and sent the second-ranked maegashira to the clay with a powerful outer-leg trip to improve to 8-0 in the day’s final bout at Fukuoka Kokusai Center. Futeno, who pulled out of the tournament with an ankle injury but returned after four rest days, fell to his fourth defeat.
Sekiwake Kotomitsuki is one off the pace, chasing the yokozuna at 7-1, after a convincing win over top-ranked maegashira Tamonoshima (5-3).
Asashoryu beat Kotooshu in playoff at the autumn basho in September and has a chance to become the first wrestler to win all six titles in a year.
Kotooshu, who is aiming for ozeki promotion with 13 or more wins here, quickly grabbed Iwakiyama’s belt and charged forward before depositing his opponent outside the ring. Iwakiyama slipped to 2-6.
Hometown favorite Chiyotaikai (6-2) stormed out of the crouch with a salvo of his trademark thrusts and slaps against Mongolian Hakuho (5-3), never relenting as he barged out the komusubi.
Fellow ozeki Kaio (5-3), who is also from Kyushu, charged like a bull after the face-off and knocked Kakizoe (1-7) over the straw bales after getting both hands wrapped around his opponent.
Kaio, who pulled out of the autumn basho with a hamstring injury and faces relegation for a record-tying eighth time, moved within three wins of keeping his rank.
In other major bouts, Russian Roho hit Tochinohana (5-3) with a barrage of slaps to the body, never giving his opponent a chance to counter as he knocked him over the ridge to pick up his sixth win.
Up-and-coming teenager Kisenosato (3-5), who defeated Kotooshu on Saturday, was scooped up by Dejima, who charged full throttle to post his first win.
Takanowaka and Toyonoshima tussled back and forth, neither giving an inch, and had to take a “mizu-iri” water break after they came to a standstill.