Hakuho had to dodge a bullet but toppled newly promoted komusubi Kakuryu to stay perfect with a 5-0 record at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament on Thursday.
Asashoryu, meanwhile, remained hot in pursuit by picking up his fourth win with a demolition of Tamanoshima in the penultimate bout as he aims for his career 24th title and first in two meets.
Hakuho, who won the spring title in March with an undefeated record, made the critical mistake of allowing his fellow Mongolian a belt grip, and the komusubi wasted little time trying to muscle the yokozuna over the edge at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
With a bit of luck — but mostly due to quicker reflexes — Hakuho twisted Kakuryu around using the same momentum, sending his opponent sprawling into the ringside seats with a beltless arm throw. Kakuryu slipped to 1-4.
Mongolian ozeki Harumafuji and rank-and-filers Takamisakari and Kisenosato share the lead with the yokozuna while Asashoryu trails in a group of six one off the pace.
Asashoryu was all business as he blasted Tamanoshima (1-4) with a series of hefty shoves and charged him out in a matter of seconds.
Bulgarian Kotooshu was the lone ozeki to suffer defeat at the hands of newly promoted komusubi Tochiozan.
Kotooshu was pushed bone upright before Tochiozan swatted him forward to a second defeat. Tochiozan saw his mark improve to 2-3.
Chiyotaikai (3-2), who is in danger of losing his ozeki status for a record 13th time and must notch a majority of wins, had trouble just keeping up with winless Homasho in an all-out brawl.
The pair slugged it out like two drunks in a dark alleyway, but injury-plagued Chiyotaikai found a way to stay in bounds as the top maegashira dove forward with a final thrust only to fall out first.
Harumafuji locked horns with winless Takekaze and kept his center of gravity low as he deployed a frontal grip on the No. 2 maegashira’s mawashi before ushering him out.
Battle-weary ozeki Kaio used a textbook frontal takeout on Kyokutenho (2-3) after getting his right hand inside for a firm belt grip to barge his opponent out for a fourth win.