Mongolian yokozuna Kakuryu capitalized on a slip-up by Terunofuji on Saturday to grab the sole lead going into the final day of the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament.
Kakuryu (12-2) watched from ringside as injury-hit Terunofuji was forced out to a third straight defeat at the hands of Goeido and the yokozuna took full advantage in the day’s finale.
After one false start, Kakuryu used a henka sidestep technique at the charge and got around Kisenosato (10-4) to send him spinning out of the ring and turn the chase for the title into a two-horse race.
Victory over Terunofuji (11-3) on Sunday will secure Kakuryu his second makuuchi division championship and his first as a yokozuna.
Terunofuji limped back to the locker room after a defeat to Kisenosato on Friday and MRI scans later showed he had damaged cruciate ligaments in his right knee and would need a month to make a full recovery.
The 23-year-old went against the advice of stablemaster Isegahama to rest and made the decision to battle on, but he never looked a threat against Goeido, who forced the Mongolian out to level his record at 7-7.
Ozeki Kotoshogiku knocked 12th-ranked maegashira Ikioi out of the title race with an oshidashi win that left both men with 10-4 marks.
In an all-sekiwake matchup, Myogiryu (8-6) floored ozeki hopeful Tochiozan (8-6) with a kubinage headlock throw, wrecking his hopes of posting double digits for the second meet in a row after his impressive 10-5 showing in Nagoya.
Georgian Tochinoshin claimed komusubi bragging rights when he forced out Okinoumi for a ninth win. Okinoumi dropped to 6-8.
Top-ranked maegashira Yoshikaze moved into double-digit victories thanks to a pull-down win against Homarefuji (8-6).
Osunaarashi (8-6) secured a winning record with a day to spare, the Egyptian No. 2 maegashira forcing out sixth-ranked veteran Aminishiki (7-7) to prevail in a tightly fought contest.
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