Kisenosato’s hopes of capturing his first championship title were given another boost after his scheduled opponent on Friday, fellow ozeki Goeido, withdrew from the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.
Goeido pulled out due to a right ankle injury, his stablemaster Sakaigawa said.
The withdrawal earned Kisenosato a win by default, leaving him with a 12-1 record and still in sole possession of the lead with two days remaining at the 15-day basho at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Kisenosato is one win ahead of Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho (11-2), who produced a clinical defeat of struggling ozeki Kotoshogiku (4-9) to keep his hopes of a record-extending 38th career title alive.
Mongolian rank-and-filers Ichinojo and Takanoiwa both lost and dropped out of a tie for second to share third at 10-3.
In the day’s final bout, Hakuho soaked up Kotoshogiku’s charge and took the ozeki down with a textbook shitatedashinage pulling underarm throw.
Kotoshogiku, who pulled off a major upset to win his first Emperor’s Cup at this tournament in 2016, has suffered back-to-back losing records and is set for demotion to sekiwake for the Spring Basho in March. He will need at least 10 wins at the next meet to return to ozeki.
Goeido got injured during his defeat to fourth-ranked maegashira Endo on Thursday. He pulls out of a grand tournament for the first time since the 2015 Summer Basho.
“The pain is getting worse,” said Goeido. “It’s disappointing (to have to withdraw) but I just have to get (the injury) treated so I can be fit for the next tournament.”
Sakaigawa said, “He (Goeido) is in no fit state to wrestle.”
Back on the raised ring, 13th-ranked maegashira Ichinojo had no answer to a barrage of slaps and thrusts in his match against Chiyoshoma. Chiyoshoma finished the job with a katasukashi (under-shoulder) swing- down move and improved to 7-6.
Takanoiwa then fell out of the chasing trio after losing his match against komusubi Takayasu. Takayasu got a firm left-handed grip on the back of Takanoiwa’s belt and pulled him forward and down to the sandy surface by the back of the neck, leaving both men with 10-3 records.
Ozeki Terunofuji slumped to a ninth defeat when he was bumped out from behind by fourth-ranked maegashira Endo (7-6).