No. 8 maegashira Endo blew the title race wide open by emphatically flooring runaway leader ozeki Terunofuji on Saturday, the penultimate day of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament, with ozeki Takakeisho also staying in the mix.
Terunofuji (12-2) held a two-win lead over his two closest rivals entering the penultimate day of the 15-day event at Ryogoku Kokugikan, but Endo and Takakeisho have now moved within a win at 11-3, meaning a loss by Terunofuji on Sunday could result in two- or three-way playoff.
Endo was at his bullish best as he barged into the bigger Terunofuji’s frame, getting his head against the ozeki’s chest and forcing Terunofuji to resort to his forceful swing with his powerful left arm.
But an unperturbed Endo grabbed an underarm belt hold with his right hand and wrapped a leg around Terunofuji’s leg in executing a throw. Terunofuji desperately held on to throw his opponent as both wrestlers teetered over the straw.
Although originally ruled the winner, an unusually long judges’ review ruled Terunofuji’s right elbow touched down first, leaving Endo unable to hide a smile.
Takakeisho, whose loss to Endo on Friday set up the current three-way race, followed them into the ring in the day’s finale. He overcame Shodai (8-6) with a timely thrust down against the fellow ozeki near the edge to keep pace with Endo.
Sekiwake Takayasu reached 10 wins for the second straight tournament, with the former ozeki proving too powerful as he charged and slapped down No. 5 Hoshoryu (6-8) — the nephew of Mongolian former yokozuna Asashoryu.
Sekiwake Takanosho’s uneven form continued as he was unable to work his way around giant No. 6 Ichinojo (9-5), falling via slap down near the edge and suffering his 10th defeat.
New Year Basho champion komusubi Daieisho (5-9) failed to the get the upper hand against No. 5 Onosho (7-7), who then won by force-out.
Komusubi Mitakeumi (9-5) forced out Takarafuji (6-8).
Terunofuji, a 29-year-old Mongolian, is fighting as an ozeki for the first time since September 2017, when knee injuries forced him down to the sport’s second-lowest division in March 2019.
He returned to the top-tier makuuchi division last July and won his second career grand tournament before adding a third in March to cap his epic comeback with a re-promotion to ozeki.
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