Hakuho put more breathing space between himself and a group of wannabe challengers Thursday, remaining undefeated on the 12th day of action with a trashing of newly promoted ozeki Baruto at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament.
Hakuho, who is aiming for his 14th Emperor’s Cup to match former yokozuna Wajima for sixth on the all-time list, can claim the title with a win against ozeki Kotomitsuki on Friday.
While Estonian behemoth Baruto continued to lose steam, dropping to his fourth defeat following a stellar 7-0 start, the Mongolian yokozuna put another would-be opponent through the meat grinder to extend his winning streak to 29 bouts.
Baruto had only beaten Hakuho once in 13 meetings — his one victory coming at the New Year meet in January. This time it was a slam dunk with Hakuho pounding Baruto over the edge to a third loss in a row seconds after the bout got under way at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Aran (9-3), a 10th-ranked Russian wrestler, was just two behind the lone yokozuna but found himself on the losing end in a match against Asasekiryu, who improved to 8-4. Harumafuji and rank-and-filer Hakuba are the only others within range with three defeats.
In an all-ozeki encounter, Harumafuji bulldozed Kaio (6-6) to pick up his ninth win, while leaving the battle-weary veteran two wins from a majority of victories to maintain his rank. Kaio is also three wins from his 1,000th career victory.
Kotomitsuki fell to an unflattering fifth defeat in a lopsided contest to rank-and-filer Kitataiki (7-5), retreating over the straw bales immediately out of the crouch.
Bulgarian Kotooshu was sent to a fourth defeat at the hands of Hakuba after his fifth-ranked opponent grabbed a wayward arm at the faceoff before shoving the ozeki over the ridge.
Ozeki hopeful Kisenosato (7-5) never budged an inch in a bout against ozeki destroyer Tochinoshin (6-6), who tried to put the sekiwake on the retreat with elbow to the head at the faceoff.
Georgian Tochinoshin, who has defeated four of the five ozeki here, was instead sent backpedaling from a turbo charge by Kisenosato.
In an early bout, Takamisakari posted a majority of wins with a frontal force-out of Kimurayama, who dropped to 6-6.