Yokozuna Hakuho and new ozeki Asanoyama cruised to their eighth straight wins at the July Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday to sit in a two-way tie for the lead after sekiwake Mitakeumi suffered his first defeat.
Hakuho fended off a spirited attack from No. 4 maegashira Kagayaki (3-5) in the final bout of Day 8 at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan before slapping the rank-and-filer down to the clay.
Asanoyama collected his eighth win by beating No. 4 Aoiyama (3-5). The Bulgarian initially put up a fight but was quickly subdued after Asanoyama latched onto his belt and calmly drove him out.
Shodai (7-1) prevailed in a sekiwake showdown with Mitakeumi and handed the overnight co-leader his first loss of the tournament. Mitakeumi tried to shove his opponent back with a strong initial charge, but Shodai raised Mitakeumi up by his right arm and then thrust his opponent down when he was off balance.
In other bouts, Takakeisho (5-3) was quickly slapped down by No. 5 Hokutofuji (5-3). The demotion-threatened kadoban ozeki’s initial shove missed the mark as Hokutofuji slipped to the side and smacked him to the ground.
Komusubi Okinoumi (4-4) ended a three-match losing streak by defeating No. 1 Endo (2-6). Okinoumi kept Endo from getting a hold on his belt and shoved him over the straw.
The other komusubi, Daieisho, also improved to 5-3 with a rear push-out victory over No. 2 Onosho (0-8), who faces demotion in September’s grand tournament after falling to a losing record.
Of the four wrestlers who entered Day 8 with a 6-1 record, only Shodai and No. 17 Terunofuji were able to stay one win off the pace. Terunofuji, a former ozeki, muscled out No. 16 Nishikigi (2-6) to kick off the day’s elite-division bouts.
Makuuchi division newcomer, No. 15 Kotoshoho, and No. 10 Myogiryu fell further out of contention after losing to No. 12 Sadanoumi (4-4) and No. 15 Chiyomaru (2-6), respectively.
No. 14 Kotoshogiku (6-2) defeated No. 8 Chiyotairyu (3-5) and earned his 714th top-division win. The former ozeki is now tied for sixth all-time with retired yokozuna Kisenosato.
Earlier on Sunday, the Japan Sumo Association revealed that No. 5 Abi, who was pulled out of the meet on Day 7 after dining out in Tokyo and violating the JSA’s regulations, underwent an antigen test for the novel coronavirus and returned a negative result.
Wrestlers have been ordered to refrain from going out during the 15-day tournament, which was shifted from its traditional Nagoya location to Tokyo to reduce the added risk of infection that comes with travel.
No. 13 Kotonowaka (4-4) also withdrew on Sunday, becoming the third top-tier wrestler to leave the meet after yokozuna Kakuryu pulled out with right elbow pain on Day 2.
Kotonowaka’s stablemaster said the 22-year-old may return to the tournament — his second contested in the sport’s highest division — should he recover from a left knee injury sustained when he was thrust down by No. 10 Kaisei on Day 7.