Yokozuna Terunofuji maintained his outright lead Wednesday at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament, improving to a perfect 11-0 with a physically draining win over giant komusubi Ichinojo.
The 29-year-old powerhouse holds a one-win buffer over ozeki Takakeisho and No. 15 maegashira Abi, who were both victorious on Day 11 at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.
Gunning for a sixth Emperor's Cup -- and his first as sumo's sole active yokozuna following the retirement of Hakuho -- Terunofuji continued his career dominance over the biggest wrestler in the division at the 15-day tournament.
The grand champion secured an outside belt grip at the jump but had to dig in his heels to prevent being driven backward by his fellow Mongolian-born rikishi.
The pair locked into a long stalemate before Terunofuji twisted Ichinojo off balance and got behind him, seizing the opening to force the 1.9-meter, 206-kilogram man-mountain across the ring and out.
Terunofuji has now won 11 of his 13 top-division battles with Ichinojo (4-7), who is at the brink of a losing record that would see him drop out of the three "sanyaku" ranks below yokozuna.
Takakeisho, who took his first loss on Day 10 against sekiwake Meisei, used his raw pushing power to knock No. 5 Endo (5-6) off the dohyo for a convincing win.
The ozeki launched a powerful pushing and thrusting attack straight at the chest of the maegashira, who had no answer and was flung backward.
Ozeki Shodai (7-4) closed in on his all-important eighth victory by forcing out sekiwake Meisei (5-6), who must finish the tournament strong if he is to hold onto sumo's third-highest rank.
The pair jostled for position after a heavy opening collision, with Shodai using a belt grip to maneuver Meisei over the straw.
Former komusubi Abi continued to look impressive in his makuuchi division return, pushing the normally artful No. 7 Ura (8-3) straight to the clay.
Having climbed back to the top flight following a half-year ban for breaking the Japan Sumo Association's coronavirus safety rules in July 2020, the 27-year-old Saitama native has shown he is serious about returning to sanyaku.
Sekiwake Mitakeumi (9-2) bounced back from his Day 10 defeat by forcing out No. 5 Takayasu (5-6).
Coming into the bout with a 19-7 head-to-head advantage, former ozeki Takayasu pushed and thrust Mitakeumi back toward the edge before the sekiwake countered with an arm pull, then hoisted his opponent over the straw.
Komusubi Kiribayama staved off a losing record, lifting No. 3 Myogiryu (2-9) out of the ring to go to 4-7.
Following victory over No. 4 Takarafuji (4-7), former sekiwake and current No. 2 Takanosho (7-4) is one bout away from a winning record that could earn him promotion back to the sanyaku.