Sekiwake Terunofuji secured his sixth win to stay among a three-man lead pack while ozeki Asanoyama fell to his second defeat on Saturday, the seventh day of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

Terunofuji, who has 24 wins from the last two meets, comfortably powered past komusubi Mitakeumi (3-4) as he moved within four wins of his second promotion to the second-highest rank of ozeki, a position he last held in 2017.

After easily grabbing the belt with his left hand, Terunofuji also got a grip with his right to force out Mitakeumi, who looked resigned to defeat as soon as his body was wrapped up by his counterpart’s overwhelming frame.

Ozeki Asanoyama, the highest-ranked wrestler of those entering the day with one defeat, slumped to a quick loss as No. 4 maegashira Kiribayama (3-4) planned his bout to perfection.

The rank-and-filer moved slightly to his left off the initial charge and grabbed the ozeki’s belt with his left hand before swiveling Asanoyama and pushing him out from behind.

Komusubi Takayasu joined Terunofuji with six wins after the former ozeki came out on top in a grueling, nearly three-minute bout against No. 1 maegashira Takarafuji (1-6).

Takarafuji looked to have gained control with a firm right overarm grip. But after a long standstill, Takayasu suddenly stretched his body to force his counterpart off his belt before executing a pulling overarm throw.

No. 9 Chiyonokuni, the lowest ranked among the leaders, salvaged his sixth win at the straw bales after failing to force journeyman No. 12 Akiseyama on his back foot.

Instead, Chiyonokuni stepped back and executed an armlock throw, flooring the 35-year-old Akiseyama (4-3), who is fighting in only his third meet in the elite makuuchi division.

No. 4 Myogiryu (5-2), who briefly held the sole lead before suffering his first loss on Friday, fell to his second defeat in two days when he was outlasted by Wakatakakage (3-4).

Komusubi Daieisho (2-5) endured a tough start to the meet after winning his maiden championship in January but showed a glimpse of his New Year form as he knocked sekiwake Takanosho from among the leading pack. Daieisho’s powerful shoves gave the sekiwake no room to maneuver in a lopsided victory.

Ozeki Takakeisho fell to his third loss after failing to brush off low thrusts from No. 3 Meisei (4-3), with a half-hearted pull-down attempt backfiring before he was forced out.

In Saturday’s final bout, Shodai (3-4) earned the day’s lone win by an ozeki, overcoming a strong challenge from No. 3 Shimanoumi (1-6) with a dramatic throw at the straw bales to end his own three-match losing streak.

The March tourney is traditionally held in Osaka, where it opened a year ago as the first grand tournament to be held behind closed doors. But amid the difficulties posed by the ongoing pandemic, the Japan Sumo Association chose to stage its fifth straight tourney in Tokyo.

A total of 28 lower-ranked wrestlers have been ruled out from the meet for coronavirus-related reasons, compared to 65 sidelined in January. Both yokozuna, Kakuryu and Hakuho, are out with injuries.

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