Yokozuna Hakuho was tripped up for a shock first defeat at the hands of sekiwake Goeido on Wednesday, throwing the door wide open in the title race on the 11th day of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament.
Ozeki Kisenosato came through with flying colors in the previous bout against rank-and-filer Ikioi in a match of wrestlers with one defeat, putting himself in perfect position for a showdown against his longtime nemesis Hakuho on Thursday.
Kisenosato shares the lead with Hakuho at 10-1, while yokozuna Harumafuji trails along with Ikioi at 9-2 after sending sekiwake Tochiozan (6-5) packing with a full-throttle thrusting attack.
There was another weekday sellout crowd at Ryogoku Kokugikan, but the normally unflappable Hakuho lost the script in a hurry against Goeido, whom he had held a dominant 23-2 record against in career matchups.
The yokozuna, who is seeking his 29th career title, tried pulling his opponent forward after the tachiai and driving him over the edge, but Goeido (6-5) dodged to his left to regain his balance and came charging forward to send the yokozuna over the straw bales.
“He is usually able to get a hold on the top of my mawashi with his left hand, but I tried my best to avoid that position today,” said Goeido, who last defeated Hakuho at the 2013 autumn basho. “I want to remain focused in each of my remaining bouts and just wrestle the best way I know how.”
Kisenosato was ironclad in his bout against Ikioi, getting his left hand firmly on the back of the mawashi before ramming his opponent out when Ikioi attempted to change hand positions. The Japanese-born ozeki is seeking his first career title.