Yokozuna Terunofuji regained sole possession of first place at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament on Thursday with a thrilling victory over sekiwake Wakamotoharu.
The lone grand champion finished Day 12 at Ryogoku Kokugikan alone on the top rung of the leaderboard at 11-1 after the joint overnight leader, former ozeki Asanoyama, was handed his second loss of the 15-day meet by sekiwake Daieisho.
In the day's final bout, Terunofuji survived a force-out attempt from Wakamotoharu (8-4) by countering with a frontal crush out that put the Mongolian-born yokozuna's surgically repaired knees to the test.
The 31-year-old powerhouse is now poised for his eighth top-division title in his first tournament since going under the knife in October.
March champion Kiribayama (10-2) stayed in the title race and all but guaranteed his promotion from sekiwake to ozeki by overpowering Takakeisho, currently the sole occupant of sumo's second-highest rank.
The Mongolian-born sekiwake forced demotion-threatened "kadoban" ozeki Takakeisho (7-5) straight back over the straw to reach 33 wins over the course of three meets and satisfy the usual requirement for ozeki promotion.
Sekiwake Daieisho (8-4) guaranteed his continued place among the distinguished "sanyaku" ranks after exploding from the blocks and pushing out No. 14 maegashira Asanoyama (10-2), who is mounting a title challenge in his return to the top flight following his suspension for breaking coronavirus safety rules.
"I didn't think about (Asanoyama's championship bid). I was just doing my sumo," Daieisho said. "I'll just do my best, and the number (of wins) will take care of itself."
Sekiwake Hoshoryu also clinched a winning record at 8-4 by using quick footwork to outmaneuver hugely talented young No. 11 Hokuseiho (8-4).
The nephew of retired Mongolian great Asashoryu deftly executed a rear push out to defeat the 21-year-old Miyagino stable protege of his uncle's longtime rival and fellow former yokozuna, Hakuho.
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