Three wrestlers head into the final day of the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament tied for the lead, with sekiwake duo Takakeisho and Mitakeumi winning on Saturday to set up a showdown with surprise rank-and-filer Okinoumi.
The two wrestlers at sumo’s third-highest rank will battle for the title along with No. 8 maegashira Okinoumi on Sunday at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan, after makuuchi newcomer and overnight co-leader Tsurugisho fell off the pace in an otherwise stunning debut tournament.
Takakeisho (11-3) wasted little time dispatching No. 5 Ryuden (6-8) on Day 14, digging in low and thrusting out the rank-and-filer to bounce back from his loss to ozeki Goeido on Friday.
The 23-year-old sekiwake is on track to win his second title, having already secured his promotion back to the sport’s second-highest rank with 10 wins here.
Mitakeumi (11-3) followed suit, taking a controversial sidestep at the initial charge with Goeido (9-5) and slapping the charging ozeki down to deny him a second-straight victory over a sekiwake.
Okinoumi (11-3) survived a close brush with Endo (8-6) and picked up a massive win to remain at the top.
The maegashira took Endo to the edge before the komusubi made an unbelievable reversal, with both going down trying to throw the other out. The match referee, however, ruled Endo’s heel inched over the straw while he was on the ropes.
No. 14 Tsurugisho (10-4) ended a four-bout winning streak and fell back in his bid to make history by winning the championship in his makuuchi debut. The top-division rookie got taken back at the initial charge by No. 9 Kotoyuki (8-6) and was thrust out at the edge.
In other matches, Abi sent out No. 8 Takarafuji to even their records at 9-5. The komusubi launched into an offensive of powerful thrusts that the rank-and-filer, who started the day one win off the lead, was unable to repel.
May’s champion, No. 2 Asanoyama, earned his 10th win and retained a shot at a second title by throwing out No. 3 Tomokaze (6-8), who will finish with a losing record for the first time in four top-division appearances.
Tochinoshin (6-8) faces a demotion after suffering his eighth loss while fighting as a kadoban ozeki needing eight wins to keep his rank. The Georgian unknowingly stepped over the straw while on the defense against No. 6 Myogiryu (7-5-2) and had his match ended by the referee.
No. 10 Meisei (9-5) and No. 16 Yutakayama (9-5) fell out of contention after respective losses to No. 3 Daieisho (7-7) and No. 11 Onosho (8-6).
Top-ranked maegashira Hokutofuji claimed his seventh consecutive win after losing six straight since beating Hakuho on Day 1 and clinched a winning record with a day to spare, as did Onosho, Kotoyuki, No. 10 Sadanoumi, and popular No. 11 Enho.