Ozeki Terunofuji retained the sole lead at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament on Thursday, bouncing back from an unlucky first loss by beating his nemesis, No. 5 maegashira Onosho, and improving to 11-1.

In the final bout on Day 12 at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan, the newly re-promoted Mongolian ozeki forced out Onosho (6-6) to avoid his third loss in as many tournaments against the rank-and-file grappler.

Neither wrestler was able to secure a belt hold from the jump. Terunofuji succeeded on his second try, using the grip to usher the maegashira over the straw. The win was Terunofuji’s second in six career bouts against Onosho.

“I thought my charge was pretty good,” said Terunofuji, whose only loss came on Day 11 of the 15-day meet when he was ruled to have fouled No. 4 Myogiryu (5-7). Ringside judges said the ozeki grabbed Myogiryu’s hair as the maegashira was tumbling to the ring’s sandy surface.

Ozeki Takakeisho remained one win behind the leader after outperforming 200-kg Mongolian No. 6 Ichinojo (8-4) in a shoving contest. After starting the day with three losses, Ichinojo joined No. 12 Okinoumi (8-4) in dropping a further bout behind.

Takakeisho leaned into his much larger opponent to withstand his assault, but nearly tumbled over when Ichinojo shifted his weight. But before the Mongolian could finish him off, the ozeki regained his balance and drove his opponent out of the ring.

Shodai, a kadoban ozeki in need of eight wins to secure his ranking for the July grand tournament after suffering a losing record in March, scraped out his seventh win, barely surviving a wild battle to throw sekiwake Takanosho at the straw.

Takanosho, who suffered his eighth loss, had the ozeki on the ropes but was unable to finish him off and succumbed to a swift counter.

With 44-time grand tournament champion Hakuho sidelined while recovering from knee surgery, the sport’s four ozeki have been in the spotlight. Their ranks were thinned on Thursday, however, when Asanoyama (7-5) withdrew after admitting to breaking the Japan Sumo Association’s coronavirus safety guidelines.

Asanoyama’s misstep was good news for former ozeki and current sekiwake Takayasu, who won their scheduled bout by default and improved to 8-4.

Popular No. 8 Endo dropped two wins off the pace at 9-3 after falling victim to a clinical effort from No. 12 Kotoeko (7-5). Kotoeko withstood Endo’s charge, deflecting his bid for a belt grip before counterattacking and forcing him back over the straw bales.

Okinoumi was pulled down to his fourth defeat by No. 14 Chiyotairyu (8-4).

Komusubi Mitakeumi (7-5) fell to his first career loss in four bouts with No. 2 Meisei (6-6), who engineered a clinical force-out. Komusubi Daieisho, the January champion, fell to his eighth loss when No. 1 Hokutofuji (5-7) slapped him down on the opening charge.

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