Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu blasted out injury-prone ozeki Kaio to zero in on the Emperor’s Cup at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday.
The Mongolian bruiser (14-0) oozed class in the day’s finale at Ryogoku Kokugikan, nonchalantly barging Kaio (8-6) out to set up what is sure to be an explosive meeting with yokozuna rival Hakuho on Sunday, the final day of the 15-day basho.
Hakuho got a fright in the preceding bout but managed to stay in contention with a 13th win against ozeki Chiyotaikai (7-7).
Chiyotaikai knocked Hakuho off balance after a mid-ring scuffle but dropped to his knees in the process to hand the yokozuna victory and leave himself needing to beat Goeido (10-4) on Sunday to avoid a losing record.
The pressure will all be on Hakuho on the final day as he needs to beat Asashoryu to force a championship playoff and keep alive his hopes of a fourth consecutive title.
In other bouts Harumafuji, formerly Ama, secured a winning record, outfoxing Kotooshu (9-5) at the charge and marching the Bulgarian ozeki out from behind.
Harumafuji lost five of his first six bouts on a nightmare start to his ozeki debut.