Grand champion Asashoryu of Mongolia defeated compatriot Kyokutenho on Friday to remain one win off the pace at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.
In the day’s final bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan, Asashoryu twisted down winless komusubi Koyokutenho to improve to 5-1. Ozeki Tochiazuma, Mongolian Hakuho and rank-and-filer Hokutoriki share the lead at 6-0.
Asashoryu won all six tournaments last year and is gunning for a record eighth straight Emperor’s Cup in the New Year tourney.
In other major bouts, Bulgarian Kotooshu, who is making his ozeki debut, bounced back from Thursday’s loss to Kokkai with a hard-fought win over Miyabiyama.
Kotooshu got a hold of Miyabiyama’s belt shortly after the faceoff and used his weight advantage to topple the top maegashira while picking up his fourth win against two losses. Miyabiyama stands at 2-4.
Tochiazuma barely broke a sweat and remained perfect when he forced out No. 3 maegashira Tochinohana, who was handed his fifth loss.
Sekiwake Hakuho also stayed undefeated at 6-0 when he overpowered No. 2 maegashira Kokkai, who dropped to 3-3 in the 15-day tournament.
Kokkai defeated Asashoryu and Kotooshu earlier in the tournament but couldn’t pull off another upset against the determined Mongolian.
Hokutoriki, a No. 11 maegashira, shoved out 13th-ranked Tochisakae to maintain a share of the lead at 6-0.
No. 7 maegashira Kakizoe shoved Hakurozan out to improve to 5-1 while handing the struggling fourth-ranked maegashira his fifth loss.