Yokozuna Asashoryu manhandled Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu while rival yokozuna Hakuho brushed aside sekiwake Aminishiki to move into a two-way tie for the lead on the 11th day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday.
Sumo’s two Mongolian yokozuna are on a collision course with 10-1 records with just four days remaining at the 15-day meet. Rank-and-filers Kyokutenho and Kakuryu sit one off the pace at 9-2.
In the day’s penultimate bout, Asashoryu was never in danger against Kotooshu and smacked the ozeki to the dirt surface after a quick-fire of thrusts almost immediately out of the crouch at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Kotooshu, who needs one more win to ease his relegation worries, dropped to 7-4.
Asashoryu is back from a two-tournament ban after he was caught playing soccer in Mongolia, although he was supposedly carrying injuries that allowed him to sit out a regional summer tour.
He is in the hunt for his career 22nd Emperor’s Cup title — a distinction that would tie him for fourth on the all-time list with former yokozuna great Takanohana.
Hakuho, who is seeking his career sixth title, burst out of the crouch, battering Aminishiki (5-6) with a series of thrusts to send the sekiwake fleeing in a matter of seconds.
Mongolian 10th-ranked maegashira Kyokutenho, however, slipped out of his share of the lead with a second defeat when he was sent backpedaling over the edge by compatriot Asasekiryu, who notched a majority of eight wins.
Meanwhile, Kotomitsuki was the only one of the three remaining ozeki to escape unscathed with a win over former sekiwake Wakanosato.
Veteran Kaio (7-4) paid for a late charge at the face off and was abruptly shown an exit by a turbocharged Kisenosato, who saw his record improve to an impressive 8-3.
Kotomitsuki got a quick jump out of the crouch and toppled Wakanosato in a frontal attack to improve to 6-5. Wakanosato fell to a majority of eight losses.
In a bout in the lower echelon, Estonian giant Baruto fell to a fourth straight defeat at the hands of Russian Roho, leaving both men with 4-7 records.
Wrestler to return
Komusubi Kotoshogiku, who withdrew from the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament with a knee injury earlier this week, will return to the raised ring to compete from the 12th day, sumo sources said Wednesday.
Kotoshogiku will face Mongolian No. 1 maegashira Tokitenku in his scheduled bout on Thursday.