New yokozuna Terunofuji maintained his one-win lead at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday, while No. 10 maegashira Myogiryu won to ensure the title race will go down to the final day.
Terunofuji (12-2) is on the verge of crowning his debut tournament as a yokozuna with his fifth career title after repelling a stubborn challenge from ozeki Takakeisho (8-6) at Ryogoku Kokugikan during the penultimate day of the 15-day meet.
Takakeisho, whose form was in doubt earlier this month after a neck injury suffered at July’s grand tournament, showed indications he is back in form with his powerful charges prior to getting a deep right underarm belt grip.
Ditching his tried-and-tested thrusting assault, however, allowed Terunofuji to grab his favored left overarm grip. Once in that position, the yokozuna was relentless, swiveling his rival around the raised ring before flinging him to the clay with an overarm throw.
The Mongolian-born Terunofuji has made an unprecedented career comeback after knee injuries and other health issues caused him to drop from the second-highest rank of ozeki to the fifth-tier division.
No. 11 Endo (10-4) was the first of the three wrestlers starting the day with three losses to take the dohyō, but fell to a thrust down from komusubi Ichinojo (8-6), who secured a winning record with his fifth straight victory.
Endo was rattled by an opening slap to the face by the giant Mongolian and failed to get his footing right as Ichinojo quickly stepped aside and sent the title contender to the sandy surface.
No. 6 Onosho (10-4) also fell, with new sekiwake Meisei (7-7) thrusting down the former komusubi straight from the initial charge and keeping his hopes alive for a winning record in the ancient sport’s third-highest rank.
No. 10 Myogiryu (11-3), however, spoiled any hopes Terunofuji might have had of wrapping up the championship with a day to spare. The veteran maegashira swiftly grabbed the front of Shodai’s belt with both hands in an emphatic force-out win, his second straight over an ozeki after beating Takakeisho on Friday. Shodai fell to 8-6.
A former sekiwake, Myogiryu has never won the Emperor’s Cup in his career.
Sekiwake Mitakeumi (8-6) missed his chance to reach 10 wins at the tournament, losing to No. 8 Okinoumi (10-4), with the maegashira earning a solid win with an overarm throw.
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