Hakuho took another step toward a second straight Emperor’s Cup on Wednesday by improving to 4-0 at the July Grand Sumo Tournament, while new ozeki Asanoyama also stayed at the front of the pack with a perfect record.

The sole yokozuna following Kakuryu’s withdrawal due an injury, Hakuho beat No. 2 maegashira Takanosho in the final bout on Day 4 of the relocated tournament at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan.

In their first career face-off, Takanosho (1-3) made strong contact at the jump and managed to push Hakuho backward, but the Mongolian-born grand champion calmly stepped to his left and threw down the rank-and-filer.

Following his victory at the Osaka Grand Tournament in March, the all-time great is aiming for a record-extending 45th career title and his first back-to-back championships since 2017.

The Summer Grand Tournament, normally held in May at Ryogoku Kokugikan, was canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In his toughest test so far as a new ozeki, Asanoyama skillfully avoided being pushed out following a gutsy performance by komusubi Daeieisho.

After flying out of the blocks and denying Asanoyama a belt grip, Daieisho (2-2) tried to drive his higher-ranked opponent over the straw. But the powerfully built ozeki showed nimble footwork as he stepped to the side and pushed Daieisho out from behind.

Ozeki Takakeisho (3-1) overpowered No. 1 Endo (1-3) to bounce back from his first loss of the 15-day meet on Tuesday.

Following a spirited pushing and thrusting battle, the demotion-threatened “kadoban” ozeki launched himself at the maegashira, whose heel touched down on the wrong side of the straw a split-second before Takakeisho hit the clay.

Sekiwake Mitakeumi (left) forces down top-ranked maegashira Yutakayama to stay undefeated on Wednesday at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan. | NIKKAN SPORTS
Sekiwake Mitakeumi (left) forces down top-ranked maegashira Yutakayama to stay undefeated on Wednesday at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan. | NIKKAN SPORTS

Sekiwake Mitakeumi stayed perfect at 4-0 while keeping No. 1 Yutakayama winless. The two-time grand tournament winner absorbed a hard opening blast from his opponent before quickly thrusting him to the ground.

The other sekiwake, Shodai, advanced to 3-1 by forcing out Mongolian No. 3 Kiribayama (1-3).

Komusubi Okinoumi (3-1) pushed out No. 2 Onosho to hand the former komusubi his fourth straight loss.

Highly regarded youngster Kotoshoho continued to impress in his top-division debut, improving to 4-0 with a win against a former ozeki, No. 13 Takayasu (2-2). The 20-year-old No. 15 will face No. 12 Shohozan (0-4) on Day 5.

Former ozeki Terunofuji also maintained a perfect record at 4-0 by beating juryo wrestler Chiyoshoma. Ranked No. 17, Terunofuji is making his return to the elite makuuchi division after his career was derailed by injuries.

The July tournament has been moved from its traditional location in Nagoya to limit travel during the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, the Ryogoku Kokugikan has limited its spectator capacity to about a quarter of its usual capacity.

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