Harumafuji took apart Kotoshogiku and closed in on his third championship title in four meets Thursday as chief rival and fellow Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho crashed to a second loss at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.
Harumafuji watched Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu (7-5) topple Hakuho in the day’s penultimate bout at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan and took full advantage, slapping about ozeki Kotoshogiku (6-6) and dragging him down to improve to 12-0.
Harumafuji can secure the title with two days to spare on Friday if he beats ozeki Kisenosato (10-2) and if 23-time Emperor’s Cup winner Hakuho and rank-and-filer Takayasu both lose.
Hakuho was second best as Kotooshu steamed in hard at the tachi-ai and got control of the front of the yokozuna’s belt before finishing him off with a powerful shove.
Kisenosato warmed up for Friday’s meeting with Harumafuji by bulldozing out fellow ozeki Kakuryu (8-4), while in the lower ranks, Takayasu, a No. 7 maegashira, kept his slim title hopes alive with a hikiotoshi hand pull down win over 15th-ranked Tochinowaka (8-4).