Hakuho capitalized on a loss by fellow yokozuna Harumafuji by knocking over Tamawashi to zero in on his 38th career championship title at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday.
Harumafuji fell to his second defeat, at the hands of promotion-chasing sekiwake Takayasu, and Hakuho (13-0) took full advantage in the day’s finale to keep his record unblemished and move two wins clear.
After a nervous start, Hakuho got himself into position and surged forward to crush out sekiwake Tamawashi (9-4). He can now secure his first Emperor’s Cup in a year with a day to spare on Saturday.
Hakuho faces ozeki Terunofuji on Saturday.
Harumafuji and Terunofuji are tied at 11-2 along with Takayasu.
Takayasu got off to a strong start at the charge but looked dead and buried in the day’s penultimate bout after he lost control of Harumafuji’s belt.
Takayasu had his back to Harumafuji but he somehow managed to escape defeat, swiveling at the ring’s edge and roaring back to slap the yokozuna down.
The sekiwake needed at least 10 wins here, for a total of 33 over three straight tournaments, to be considered for ozeki promotion, but moving up a rank now looks like a mere formality.
Terunofuji kept alive his title hopes, notching an 11th win and condemning fourth-ranked megashira Tochiozan to a losing record (5-8) with a kotenage armlock throw.
In other bouts, Goeido had to fight tooth and nail against fourth-ranked maegashira Takarafuji (3-10), but prevailed to secure the eighth win he needed to retain his ozeki rank.
Goeido, who won last year’s Autumn Basho with a perfect record, was fighting to save his ozeki rank for the fifth time. He posted a 1-5-9 losing mark after pulling out of the spring meet on the sixth day with an ankle injury.
With only pride left to fight for after suffering a majority of losses on Thursday, sekiwake Kotoshogiku posted a fifth win, locking up second-ranked maegashira Okinoumi (1-12) and bundling him over the ridge.
Ura started the day tied for third place at 10-2, but the 10th-ranked maegashira was slapped down to his third defeat by sixth-ranked Ikioi (9-4).