Komusubi Takayasu fell to No. 2 maegashira Wakatakakage and relinquished his sole lead as resurgent Terunofuji joined him with his 10th win on Friday, the 13th day of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.
Takayasu could have taken a giant stride toward his maiden title with a win but the former ozeki was handed a damaging blow instead by Wakatakakage (9-4), who entered the day on the back of five straight wins and added another to stay in the title chase himself at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Takayasu looked to use his advantage in size as he aimed his thrusts against his leaner opponent but failed to lock him up and was repeatedly outflanked by the nimble Wakatakakge, who maintained his balance despite a credible effort by Takayasu to slap him down.
Takayasu remained in control of the tie and twice forced Wakatakakage to the edge but the maegashira showed great reflexes to escape on both occasions before finally attacking Takayasu on the counter. Takayasu launched Wakatakakage with a last-ditch left armlock throw, but his right knee buckled and touched down before his opponent landed on the wrong side of the straw bales.
Sekiwake Terunofuji (10-3) drew level with Takayasu with an emphatic win, grabbing a left underarm belt hold straight away before forcing out ozeki Shodai (7-6) in a flash.
The win should guarantee his return to ozeki, the second-highest rank and one he last held in 2017 before knee injuries saw him plummet to the depths of sumo’s lower divisions. He secured his 34th win from the latest three meets all as sekiwake or komusubi, with 33 being one of the key benchmarks.
Asanoyama (9-4) could have joined the leading pair with three defeats but lost ground in the title chase after falling to a slap down near the straw bales in a long, evenly-matched bout against fellow ozeki Takakeisho (9-4).
The pair reeled off powerful pushes in a high-octane encounter before Asanoyama seemed to have knocked Takakeisho off balance with a strong push to the side. But Takakeisho had enough left to regain his balance at the edge and pulled off a timely slap-down to floor Asanoyama.
Bulgarian No. 12 maegashira Aoiyama (9-4) pushed out No. 8 Tobizaru (8-5) to retain some hope of a title, while No. 15 Hidenoumi (9-4), Tobizaru’s older brother, won his fifth straight bout to stay in the pack after flooring No. 11 Kotoshoho (1-4-8) with an overarm throw.
No. 9 Chiyonokuni (8-5) pulled out of the meet before the day’s bout after dislocating his finger and breaking a rib.
January champion Daieisho (7-6) opened the meet with four straight defeats but the komusubi is now close to a winning record for the tournament after shoving out No. 3 Meisei (8-5) in a feisty bout.
No. 4 Myogiryu snapped a seven-bout losing streak by slapping down sekiwake Takanosho, leaving them both at 6-7.
Komusubi Mitakeumi (6-7), a two-time champion, staved off his eighth loss, while pushing No. 6 Tamawashi (5-8) out to his eighth defeat.
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