Harumafuji outmuscled Shohozan to take sole possession of the lead on the sixth day of action Friday at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.
The Mongolian yokozuna showed nifty footwork and forced out the komusubi (1-5) to move one win clear of the field at 6-0, after overnight coleader Kitataiki came a cropper against fellow rank-and-filer Takarafuji.
Yokozuna rival and compatriot Hakuho also won handsomely and was in a group of five wrestlers tied for 5-1 at the 15-day basho at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Aiming for back-to-back titles after capturing a 23rd Emperor’s Cup in November, Hakuho was in imperious form and never gave Kyokutenho a hope as he rammed the No. 2 maegashira out to a fifth defeat.
In other bouts at the top of the rankings, all four ozeki came through unscathed, but Baruto’s hopes of a returning to sumo’s second-highest rank were dealt a crushing blow after the Estonian sekiwake fell to a third loss.
Kisenosato (4-2) showed great composure to soak up winless Toyohibiki’s attack and barge him out of the dohyo, while Kotoshogiku was also two wins back after ringside judges correctly awarded him a “sukuinage” beltless arm throw win against top-ranked maegashira Myogiryu (2-4).
Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu was all business in bumping out Brazilian maegashira Kaisei (4-2), snapping a three-bout losing skid and leveling his score at 3-3 in the process.
Baruto, nursing a heavily strapped left knee, was overpowered by Mongolian Kakuryu and must now win at least seven of his remaining nine bouts to return to ozeki.
In an earlier match, Kitataiki saw his perfect start to the tournament come to an end as the 10th-ranked maegashira allowed 14th-ranked Takarafuji (5-1) to get a firm left-handed grip on the back of his mawashi and march him over the straw ridge.