Yokozuna Hakuho took out Bulgarian maegashira Aoiyama to breeze to a fifth straight victory as the co-leading Mongolian pack was trimmed to three at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Thursday.
On a day when injured yokozuna Harumafuji withdrew from the 15-day basho at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan, Hakuho wasted no time in hauling down Aoiyama (2-3) to retain his share of the lead at 5-0 with fellow yokozuna Kakuryu and 10th-ranked maegashira Ichinojo.
Hakuho is looking a strong bet to secure a 31st career title that would leave him one from tying the all-time record of 32 held by sumo legend Taiho.
Kakuryu showed neat footwork to slap down third-ranked maegashira Takayasu (1-4).
Kisenosato is among a group of five wrestlers tied for second place at 4-1.
Harumafuji pulled out after sustaining an eye injury in his defeat at the hands of Yoshikaze on Wednesday.
He suffered a fractured right eye socket after clashing with Yoshikaze during the loss in which he was disqualified for pulling his opponent’s hair.
A decision has yet to be made as to whether Harumafuji will require surgery, which would leave him needing three months to recover. The injury would take a month to heal without an operation.
It is Harumafuji’s first withdrawal since the New Year Basho in January and his fourth overall. He forfeited Thursday’s bout against Egyptian grappler Osunaarashi (3-2).
Makuuchi-division debutant Ichinojo stood his ground and outmuscled seventh-ranked maegashira Chiyootori (2-3), but 40-year-old compatriot Kyokutenho’s perfect start came to end as he stumbled and got bundled out from behind by 11th-ranked Chiyomaru (1-4).
In other bouts of note, Goeido managed to maintain his balance on the edge of the ring and moved into the winning column at 3-2 on his ozeki debut with a defeat of komusubi Chiyotairyu (1-4).
Kisenosato produced a textbook force-out win to condemn komusubi Jokoryu to a fifth consecutive defeat, while Yoshikaze pulled off another upset as he yanked down ozeki Kotoshogiku (3-2) to stay one win off the pace.