Yokozuna Asashoryu dodged a bullet to take down second-ranked maegashira Miyabiyama and retain his share of the lead at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday.
The brash Mongolian (4-0) looked in trouble after working Miyabiyama to the edge of the ring at Ryogoku Kokugikan but wrapped up the day’s action with a cheeky grin on his face after pulling off a balancing act on the straw ridge as Miyabiyama (1-3) kissed the dirt.
Title favorite and fellow yokozuna Hakuho kept his scorecard blemish-free with hard-earned win and also stayed among a group of pacesetting rikishi including ozeki wrestlers Kotooshu, Chiyotaikai, Estonian sekiwake Baruto and rank-and-filer Tochiozan.
Hakuho was given his first serious test in his bid for a fourth Emperor’s Cup but prevailed by ending a spirited challenge from winless Kotoshogiku with nicely worked overarm throw.
Kotooshu got a vice-like grip on Takekaze’s (2-2) mawashi (belt) and waltzed the third-ranked maegashira out and Chiyotaikai had No. 2 maegashira Yoshikaze (1-3) backpedaling in the face of a hailstorm of slaps and thrusts to keep his piece of the lead.
Struggling Harumafuji’s nightmare start to life as an ozeki continued when he lost his grip on komusubi Kisenosato (1-3) and tumbled to a fourth loss.
Harumafuji is under pressure to show his performance at last November’s Kyushu basho was no fluke after he went 13-2 and took Hakuho all the way before losing to the yokozuna in a championship playoff.