Yokozuna Hakuho took apart Bulgarian bruiser Kotooshu to close in on a sixth consecutive championship at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday.
After a brief exchange of slaps and thrusts, the Mongolian firebrand managed to secure control of Kotooshu’s belt and was never in danger from that moment onward, calmly forcing the ozeki over the straw bales at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Hakuho (12-1) goes into the final weekend of the 15-day tourney with a one-win lead over surprise package Okinoumi, with Kotoshogiku (9-4) another win back.
Okinoumi, a 13th-ranked maegashira, snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against Hakuba (7-6) to keep alive his championship hopes.
Okinoumi came perilously close to going down at the ring’s edge after the charge but somehow managed to stay on his feet and countered to spin his 10th-ranked opponent around and out of the dohyo.
Back at the top of the rankings, Estonian behemoth Baruto was quick to smother Kisenosato (8-5) with a vice-like face grip and surged forward to send him tumbling over the edge for a well-earned ninth win.
Harumafuji then claimed ozeki bragging rights against Kaio, yanking him to the dirt by the front of his belt to secure the eighth win he needed to stay at sumo’s second-highest rank.
Kisenosato’s sekiwake teammate Kotoshogiku railroaded popular maegashira Homasho (7-6) to move into double digits.