Kisenosato’s slim hopes of promotion to yokozuna were all but shattered Sunday as komusubi Tochiozan sentenced the ozeki to his third defeat of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.
Sole leader Hakuho, meanwhile, took another step toward his 28th career Emperor’s Cup, seeing off fifth-ranked maegashira Shohozan to maintain his perfect record at 8-0.
Hakuho, seeking his first win in two meets, was all business in the day’s finale, soaking up an attack from Shohozan and sending him out with a textbook arm-bar throw to maintain a one-win lead over compatriot Kakuryu. Shohozan and four other wrestlers share third at 6-2.
Kisenosato’s fresh bid to make sumo’s top rank was already hanging by a thread after defeats on the opening and fifth day of the 15-day basho at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
And the surly ozeki was left to count the cost after coming out too slow at the tachiai, allowing Tochiozan to take control and bump him out in a frontal force out to score a fifth win after three straight losses from opening day.
Kisenosato had been given a rough directive of winning the tournament with at least 13 wins to stand a realistic chance of promotion to yokozuna.
His first attempt at a move up to grand champion ended in failure when he suffered three defeats early in the Nagoya meet last July.
The other two ozeki came through with wins Sunday, although Kakuryu had to fight tooth and nail to see off Ikioi (2-6) in an entertaining slugfest, just about managing to stay in the ring after yanking the second-ranked maegashira to the dirt.
Kotoshogiku moved within three wins of the eight he needs to keep his ozeki rank with a slap-down win over Bulgarian third-ranked maegashira Aoiyama (3-5).
Goeido, who is hoping for a run at promotion to ozeki, ended a three-bout losing skid by barging out No. 1 maegashira Okinoumi for a fifth win. Okinoumi dropped to 3-5.
Bulgarian Kotooshu (5-3) also returned to winning ways after back-to-back losses, completing a winning day for sumo’s third-highest rank of sekiwake by flattening No. 4 maegashira Takekaze, who is also 5-3.
Kotooshu, who recently obtained Japanese nationality, needs five more wins from his last seven bouts to return to ozeki at the first attempt. He was demoted after pulling out on the fourth day of the Kyushu meet in November with a dislocated left shoulder.
Further down the rankings, Egyptian-born No. 16 maegashira Osunaarashi came out on top of his first makuuchi-division meeting with Endo, sending the up-and-coming 10th-ranked wrestler down with a pull on the back of his neck to leave both men with 6-2 marks.