Hakuho and Asashoryu remained poised for another mouthwatering showdown with both Mongolian-born yokozuna banging out their 10th victories on Wednesday as the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament enters the final four days.
Hakuho, seeking his second consecutive Emperor’s Cup and 13th overall, knocked the bejesus out of rank-and-filer Takekaze in the day’s final at Rygoku Kokugikan.
Takekaze, who needed assistance getting up after the yokozuna clobbered him immediately out of the crouch with a shoulder to the head, fell to 4-7.
Asashoryu, meanwhile, never allowed Baruto to get anything rolling in the day’s penultimate match, sending the Estonian sekiwake goliath flying to the dirt surface like a cartoon character after positioning his hands for a powerful underarm throwing technique.
Baruto sits in an eight-way tie for second place, two behind the co-leaders with three defeats, after beating Hakuho on the seventh day as well as four of sumo’s second-highest rank of ozeki.
Suffering his second defeat in a row, it is unlikely he will rebound to become only the second European to win an Emperor’s Cup and equal the feat of Bulgarian Kotooshu.
In an all-ozeki clash, Kotooshu (8-3) muscled over veteran Kaio, wrapping both hands around his opponent’s belt before dumping the 37-year-old to a fifth loss.
Mongolian ozeki Harumafuji wasted little time with Hokutoriki (2-9), bulldozing the No. 3 maegashira over the edge in a matter of seconds to grab his eighth win.