Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu gunned down Miyabiyama to stay hot on the trail of yokozuna rival Hakuho at 4-1 at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament on Thursday.
Asashoryu soaked up a flurry of thrusts to the face but was never in danger in the day’s finale at Ryogoku Kokugikan, disposing of the former ozeki (1-4) with a pair of meaty shoves at the ring’s edge.
Hakuho stayed one win clear of Asashoryu while Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu and No. 5 maegashira Toyonoshima are the other early pacesetters with five wins at the 15-day meet in Tokyo.
With Asashoryu watching from the sidelines Hakuho put on another sumo clinic, barely breaking sweat as he wrapped up Kotoshogiku (3-2) and floored the sekiwake with a routine throw.
Asashoryu, who beat Hakuho on the final day of the spring meet in March, is gunning for his 23rd Emperor’s Cup while Hakuho is in the hunt for his seventh career title and first in two basho.
Enjoying his best start to a tournament in 15 meets, Kotooshu further eased his relegation worries when he clamped both hands on Asasekiryu’s (3-2) belt and powered the komusubi over the straw bales.
Kotooshu dropped out of the spring meet in March with an arm injury and needs to post a majority of wins to retain his ozeki rank.
In an earlier bout, Toyonoshima kept his slate clean with a frontal push-out win over eighth-ranked maegashira Takekaze, who dropped to 1-4.
Elsewhere in the upper echelons, ozeki Chiyotaikai rebounded from back-to-back losses with a nifty thrust-and-pull win over winless Estonian giant Baruto, while Kaio caused more grief for another European top maegashira in the following bout.
Kaio shrugged off Georgia’s Kokkai and sent him sprawling to a fifth loss with a textbook overarm throw to snap a three-bout losing skid.
However, giant-killing komusubi Kisenosato prevented a clean sweep for sumo’s second rank when he crushed out baby-faced ozeki Kotomitsuki.
Kisenosato kicked off his campaign by stunning Asashoryu and has also beaten Kaio to sit one win off the pace at 4-1. Kotomitsuki slipped to 3-2.
Asa’s day in court
Asashoryu is set to testify as a plaintiff at the next hearing in a defamation suit the Japan Sumo Association and wrestlers have brought against a weekly magazine over allegations of match-fixing.
The Mongolian grand champion, who the tabloid-style Shukan Gendai claims has paid money to other wrestlers to lose so he can win titles, has agreed to appear in court, according to a JSA lawyer.