Yokozuna Hakuho moved a step closer to capturing a record-extending 38th championship title with a routine win over Tochiozan at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament on Thursday.
With yokozuna rival Harumafuji having picked up a default win following the withdrawal of his scheduled opponent Takanoiwa earlier in the day, the pressure was on Hakuho in the day’s final bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
But Hakuho barely broke sweat as he quickly slapped down fourth-ranked maegashira Tochiozan (5-7) to stay in sole possession of the lead at 12-0 with three days of the tournament remaining.
The Mongolian, who is now 35-2 against Tochiozan, and Harumafuji (11-1) are the only two yokozuna left in the tournament after injuries forced Kakuryu and Kisenosato to pull out earlier in the meet.
Hakuho missed most of the Spring Basho in March due to toe and thigh injuries, but he has been in imperious form in this tournament.
Mongolian ozeki Terunofuji, sekiwake Takayasu and No. 10 megashira Ura share third place at 10-2.
Terunofuji moved into double figures after working his way around fifth-ranked maegashira Shodai (8-4) and shunting him out from behind.
Goeido moved within one win of the eight he needs to retain his ozeki rank, making short work of Bulgarian No. 3 maegashira Aoiyama, who suffered his 10th defeat.
Takayasu scored an all-important 10th victory, meeting the requirement of 33 wins over three straight tournaments to be considered for promotion to sumo’s second-highest rank of ozeki.
Takayasu fended off Takarafuji (3-9) at the charge and grabbed the fourth-ranked maegashira by the back of his belt before sending him to the dirt with a well-timed overarm throw.
Fellow sekiwake Tamawashi also emerged victorious in the next bout to move to 9-3, the Mongolian posting a beltless arm throw win after trading blows with third-ranked Daieisho (3-9).
Komusubi Mitakeumi (6-6) overpowered sekiwake Kotoshogiku and in the process sentenced the former ozeki to a losing 4-8 record.