FUKUOKA – Asashoryu put troubled ozeki Chiyotaikai out of his misery in clinical fashion Tuesday to retain his share of the lead with chief rival Hakuho heading into the final stretch of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.
The Mongolian yokozuna (10-0) showed no mercy in the day’s penultimate bout, weathering an early onslaught before calmly lifting the Kokonoe stable veteran out to a fatal eighth loss at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.
Chiyotaikai came into the tournament with his rank on the line for a record 14th time but this latest setback means he will now be demoted to sumo’s third rank of sekiwake for the New Year basho in Tokyo.
Chiyotaikai has said he will retire if he fails to post the 10 wins he now requires in the New Year meet to secure a return to ozeki.
Hakuho, meanwhile, was all business in the day’s finale and moved into double digits with a routine force-out win over third-ranked maegashira Tochiozan (3-7).
Rank-and-filer Yoshikaze stayed one win off the pace but Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu’s title hopes suffered a blow with a second defeat at the hands of local favorite Kaio.
Kaio (7-3) responded to boisterous vocal support from his home fans by sending Kotooshu crashing over the ridge after Harumafuji (5-5) had come out on top in another all-ozeki affair against Kotomitsuki (6-4).
Elsewhere, Estonian sekiwake Baruto had no answer to a vicious charge from top-ranked maegashira Takekaze (5-5).
Surprise package Yoshikaze, a ninth-ranked maegashira, stayed in touch with the yokozuna by muscling out maegashira Kakizoe, who dropped to 6-4.