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.

Yokozuna Terunofuji (facing camera) defeats sekiwake Wakamotoharu on the 12th day of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan on May 25, 2023. (Kyodo)

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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