Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu kept his eyes on the prize and eased past veteran ozeki Kaio on Thursday to stay firmly on course for his 24th Emperor’s Cup at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament.
Asashoryu was all business in the day’s last bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan, quickly gaining control to usher Kaio (7-5) over the straw ridge and improve to 12-0, one win clear of chief rival Hakuho with three days of the tourney remaining.
Asashoryu has not won a tournament since beating Hakuho in a playoff in the New Year meet and will be hoping to celebrate his 29th birthday by holding aloft the trophy on the final day of the 15-day meet on Sunday.
Hakuho stayed within reach of Asashoryu, but the yokozuna had to dig deep into his energy reserves to see off ozeki Harumafuji (7-5), who finally succumbed and hit the dirt after repeatedly threatening to stage an upset.
Estonian komusubi Baruto (10-2) kept his slim hopes of the title alive and was alone in third place after disposing of Kotomitsuki — his fifth ozeki victim — with an “uwatenage” overarm throw.
Kotomitsuki dropped to 9-3.
In other bouts in the top ranks, Kotooshu (8-4) was sent packing to his third consecutive defeat, the Bulgarian easily getting pulled down at the edge by fourth-ranked Tokitenku (7-5).
Earlier, Kisenosato’s tournament took another turn for the worse after the sekiwake was taken down by top-ranked Georgian grappler Tochinoshin (4-8).
Kisenosato needs to win all three of his remaining bouts to avoid a losing record here.
Kotoshogiku restored pride for sumo’s third rank in the following bout when he barged out Mongolian maegashira Kakuryu (8-4) to level his record at 6-6.