Komusubi Daieisho closed to within one win of his second top-division championship Saturday as he ended rank-and-file wrestler Midorifuji's title challenge at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.
A day after taking the outright lead, Daieisho (12-2) protected his one-win buffer by blowing away No. 5 maegashira Midorifuji (10-4) in their head-to-head battle on the penultimate day at Edion Arena Osaka.
Powerful pusher and thruster Daieisho was in control from the jump, knocking Midorifuji back to the edge and shoving him down before he could react.
Unbeaten through the first 10 days of the 15-day tournament, the 26-year-old Midorifuji had his unexpected bid for a maiden title derailed by a run of losses to higher-ranked opponents.
New sekiwake Kiribayama (11-3) is the only wrestler still capable of catching Daieisho and will face him in Sunday's final scheduled bout. A victory by the Mongolian grappler would force a tiebreaking playoff between the pair.
Kiribayama notched his 11th win when fellow sekiwake Wakatakakage (7-7) forfeited their Day 14 bout due to a knee injury that could see him sidelined for three months.
Wakatakakage's stablemaster Arashio said the wrestler hurt his right knee during his Day 13 win over komusubi Kotonowaka and his participation in the May grand tournament would be determined closer to the date.
Mongolian sekiwake Hoshoryu (10-4) knocked komusubi Wakamotoharu (10-4) out of title contention in emphatic fashion, dumping him to the clay with a powerful overarm throw.
The ongoing grand tournament is the first since the start of Japan's Showa era in 1926 to be held without a wrestler from sumo's top two ranks following the injury withdrawals of yokozuna Terunofuji and ozeki Takakeisho.
Sumo: Daieisho grabs outright lead after Midorifuji's 3rd loss in row
Sumo: Midorifuji takes 2nd loss, ties for lead with Daieisho
Sumo: Midorifuji sees lead shrink following 1st loss in Osaka