Rank-and-file wrestler Asanoyama pulled off a brilliant comeback win Wednesday to remain tied with yokozuna Terunofuji for the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament lead with a 10-1 record.
The 29-year-old Asanoyama, a No. 14 maegashira and former ozeki, worked his way out of serious jeopardy on the 11th of 15 days at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan while Terunofuji finished the day's bouts with an easy win over sekiwake Hoshoryu (7-4).
Competing in the top flight for the first time since May 2021 due to a lengthy suspension for violating coronavirus rules, Asanoyama handed fellow title challenger and No. 6 maegashira Meisei his third loss.
Having seized double under-arm holds on the back of Asanoyama's belt, Meisei steered the former ozeki back to the straw, where he appeared to be on the brink of victory.
Asanoyama, however, perfectly timed a subtle pivot toward his left just as Meisei attempted a frontal force-out. Asanoyama lowered his left shoulder, pushed up with his right hand and twisted his opponent down to defeat.
Sekiwake debutant Wakamotoharu (8-3) managed an equally impressive win over highly touted No. 11 Hokuseiho (8-3). With his heels to the straw and in danger of being forced out, Wakamotoharu picked his much larger opponent off his feet, pivoted and dropped him to his third loss.
Takakeisho, a relegation-threatened "kadoban" ozeki, earned the seventh of the eight wins he needs to remain in sumo's second-highest rank by pulling down Daiesho (7-4).
Kiribayama, who is on track to earn promotion from sekiwake to ozeki with 10 wins, earned his ninth with a patient force-out victory over Hiradoumi (7-4). Struggle and twist as he might, the No. 9 could not escape the sekiwake's clutches.
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