Asashoryu took another step toward his 23rd Emperor’s Cup by mauling Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu to extend his perfect record to 11-0 at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday.
Asashoryu did his best impression of a pit bull terrier at Ryogoku Kokugikan, shaking helpless Kotooshu (8-3) around like a rag doll and flipping him over to stay one win clear of chief rival and countryman Hakuho.
The Mongolian yokozuna is looking more and more like championship material on his comeback after missing part or all of the last three tournaments because of an injury to his left elbow.
But Hakuho, eyeing his fourth consecutive title, kept up the pressure on Asashoryu as he rebounded from a shock defeat Tuesday to force out Kaio, denying the ozeki a winning record in the process.
His rank on the line for a record 12th time, Kaio (7-4) needs just one more win at the 15-day meet to preserve his ozeki status.
No. 12 maegashira Tochiozan (9-2) dropped a further win off the pace after getting mugged by seventh-ranked Hokutoriki, who secured a majority of wins and improved to 8-3.
Buoyed by Tuesday’s upset win over Hakuho, Harumafuji put an dreadful first week firmly behind him, showing nifty footwork to barge out Kotomitsuki (2-9).
Harumafuji (5-6) scored a 13-2 record and narrowly missed out on the title after a championship playoff defeat to Hakuho in last November’s Kyushu meet.
Elsewhere, fading sekiwake Baruto slipped to a fourth defeat as top-ranked Kotoshogiku read the Estonian like a book at the “tachiai” charge to send him sprawling with a beltless armthrow. Kotoshogiku staved off a losing record for another day by improving to 4-7.