Komusubi Daieisho seized the outright lead Friday at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament, improving to 11-2 as fellow front runner Midorifuji suffered his third straight loss.
Fifth-ranked maegashira Midorifuji had no answer for sekiwake Hoshoryu after Daieisho held serve by taking care of No. 4 Meisei on Day 13 at Edion Arena Osaka.
Sekiwake Kiribayama and komusubi Wakamotoharu racked up wins to stay in the title race, joining Midorifuji on the second rung of the leaderboard at 10-3.
Daieisho started slowly against Meisei (4-9) but soon found his groove to win the battle of former sekiwake by frontal thrust out.
Forced to defend from the outset, Midorifuji repeatedly fended off attempted throws from Hoshoryu (9-4) until the Mongolian sekiwake eventually succeeded with an underarm throw.
Kiribayama dominated his match with No. 6 Endo (8-5), spinning the maegashira around and ushering him from the ring with a rear push out.
Wakamotoharu stayed on track after forcing out No. 7 Hokutofuji (7-6), but fellow komusubi Kotonowaka (9-4) fell off the pace with his loss to Wakamotoharu's younger brother, sekiwake Wakatakakage.
Ordered to redo their bout after they hit the clay simultaneously, Wakatakakage (7-6) and Kotonowaka faced off for a second time, with the sekiwake getting the jump on his bigger opponent and pushing him out.
With yokozuna Terunofuji and ozeki Takakeisho both missing due to injury, the 15-day grand tournament is the first since the start of Japan's Showa era in 1926 to be held without wrestlers from sumo's top two ranks.
Sumo: Midorifuji takes 2nd loss, ties for lead with Daieisho
Sumo: Ozeki Takakeisho withdraws from Spring Tournament
Sumo: Sole yokozuna Terunofuji to skip Osaka tournament