Lone yokozuna Terunofuji took the outright lead and became the first wrestler to clinch a winning record Sunday as he improved to a perfect 8-0 at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament.
The Mongolian-born grand champion continued to impress in his injury comeback at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan, easily accounting for No. 5 maegashira Kotoshoho after the two other joint overnight leaders, No. 6 Meisei and No. 14 Asanoyama, suffered their first losses.
Kotoshoho (1-7) initially succeeded in keeping Terunofuji off his belt but the yokozuna maintained his forward momentum to push out the rank-and-filer.
Needing eight wins to stay at sumo's second-highest rank, demotion-threatened "kadoban" ozeki Takakeisho (6-2) inched closer to the magic number by quickly thrusting out komusubi Shodai (3-5).
Other wrestlers among the higher ranks had mixed fortunes on Day 8. Coming in one win off the pace, sekiwake Daieisho (6-2) dropped further back after being thrust down by No. 1 Midorifuji (3-5), winner of three straight since starting the tournament 0-5.
"I completely lost the initial charge, but I was able to get my sumo on track," Midorifuji said.
Newly promoted sekiwake Wakamotoharu (6-2) also gave up ground in the title race with his loss to No. 4 Nishikigi (2-6) via beltless arm throw.
The breakthrough winner of the March tournament, Mongolian sekiwake Kiribayama, advanced to 6-2 by pushing down slippery No. 4 Ura (3-5).
Sekiwake Hoshoryu (6-2) earned a big round of applause after taking down komusubi Kotonowaka (3-5) with an impressive hooking inner thigh throw.
Former ozeki Asanoyama, back in the top division for the first time since his lengthy suspension for breaking coronavirus safety rules, was stunned by highly touted 21-year-old No. 11 Hokuseiho, who executed an underarm throw to improve to 6-2.