Unheralded Tokushoryu stands one win away from an improbable championship at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament after beating Shodai in a battle of the joint overnight leaders on Saturday.
Occupying the lowest rung of sumo’s top division, the No. 17 maegashira took the outright lead at Ryogoku Kokugikan as he outmaneuvered No. 4-ranked Shodai and improved to 13-1 on the penultimate day.
The 15-day meet became a two-way race between the pair of rank-and-file grapplers after ozeki Takakeisho (11-3) lost to sekiwake Asanoyama (9-5).
The 33-year-old Tokushoryu continued defying predictions by using a right outside grip to thrust down Shodai (12-2), winner of their only previous meeting.
After the pair locked up in the middle of the ring, Shodai took the offensive and drove Tokushoryu backward. But the lower-ranked wrestler kept his cool and was able to pull Shodai off balance and down to the clay, all while backpedaling toward the straw.