Shodai and Tokushoryu each retained their leading records at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Thursday, while ozeki Goeido suffered an eighth loss and faces a demotion from the sport’s second-highest rank.
Goeido (4-8) was beaten by new sekiwake Asanoyama (7-5) in the day’s final bout after the rank-and-file co-leaders claimed their 11th wins at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan.
The 33-year-old Goeido got into a good position after the initial clash with Asanoyama. But the ozeki allowed last year’s Summer Basho winner to navigate in, secure his favored belt hold and force him over the straw.
Goeido, who will forfeit his rank for the first time since being promoted in 2014, can secure an automatic return to ozeki with 10 or more wins at March’s Spring Basho in Osaka.
Earlier, No. 4 maegashira Shodai (11-1) had to fend off a thrusting attack from komusubi Abi (5-7), while avoiding stepping out of the ring.
Abi launched a deadly shove at the edge, but Shodai absorbed the blow and slapped the komusubi to the side while twisting him down.
No. 17 Tokushoryu (11-1) also retained his one-loss record, beating No. 11 Kagayaki (9-3) and taking out one of his closest rivals for the title in the process.
Tokushoryu forced Kagayaki back with some powerful lunges before his opponent counterattacked and drove Tokushoryu backward to the straw. With defeat looming, Tokushoryu employed a last-ditch twisting thrust and was able to get Kagayaki down before taking a knee.
Shodai, who has already fought all the top-ranked grapplers still in contention, faces Kagayaki on Friday, while Tokushoryu takes on No. 9 Yutakayama.
Ozeki Takakeisho (10-2) became the sole wrestler one win behind the leaders, defeating No. 6 Tochinoshin (5-7). The Georgian had Takakeisho on the ropes, but Takakeisho executed a powerful overarm throw at the straw to stay in contention.
Yutakayama (9-3) was dealt his third loss by No. 16 Tochiozan (8-4), who picked up a winning record while pulling Yutakayama down the leaderboard.
Yutakayama had worked Tochiozan to the edge, but Tochiozan stepped back to open up some space, then grabbed Yutakayama by the arm and swung him out.
No. 2 Hokutofuji (9-3) retained his slim hopes of a title by racking up his ninth victory with a push-out over No. 1 Endo (7-5).
Endo banked on an early pull-down attempt, but Hokutofuji was unmoved and proceed to drive him out with a high stiff-arm to the neck.
No. 14 Terutsuyoshi (8-4) fell off the pace after getting slapped down by No. 14 Shimanoumi (5-7). Terutsuyoshi tried to get under Shimanoumi but found himself locked up and forced to the ground as he tried to escape.
In other bouts, komusubi Daieisho (4-8) pushed out No. 6 Takarafuji (5-7), while No. 5 Enho (7-5) escaped the clutches of sekiwake Takayasu (4-8).
Enho had trouble maneuvering around the former ozeki and was eventually locked up. The division’s lightweight slipped away as both wrestlers went for an underarm throw and Takayasu crashed down.