Lone yokozuna Hakuho outlasted fellow Mongolian Ichinojo to maintain his two-win cushion at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Tuesday.
The only grand champion left in the 15-day tournament following Kisenosato's withdrawal earlier in the day, Hakuho (10-0) broke up a mid-ring stalemate and kicked Ichinojo (7-3) in the knee before flooring the fourth-ranked maegashira with a textbook "uwatenage" overarm throw.
Hakuho, who is seeking a record-extending 40th career championship title, is two wins clear of rank-and-filers Okinoumi and Hokutofuji.
Twelfth-ranked maegashira Okinoumi (8-2) bounced back from defeat to shove out seventh-ranked Daishomaru (3-7) and secure a majority of wins.
No. 3 Hokutofuji (8-2) pulled out a hard-earned eighth win, surviving three vicious attacks from Chiyotairyu (4-6) before barging out the second-ranked grappler.
But Goeido's (7-3) title hopes took another hit when the ozeki was slapped down to a third defeat at the hands of sekiwake Mitakeumi, who improved to 6-4.
Ozeki Takayasu (7-3) yanked down komusubi Kotoshogiku, sentencing the former ozeki to a losing 2-8 record in the process.
Kisenosato pulled out meet due to pain in his left ankle and lower back, his stablemaster Tagonoura said earlier Tuesday.
Kisenosato, 31, suffered a third straight loss Monday that left his record at 4-5 at Fukuoka Kokusai Center, equaling Musashimaru's all-time record by giving up five "kinboshi," or losses to rank-and-file wrestlers, in a single tournament.
It is the fourth consecutive meet from which the Japan-born yokozuna has withdrawn and fifth time in his career. He lost by default Tuesday's scheduled bout against fourth-ranked maegashira Chiyonokuni (2-8).
Since his yokozuna promotion following victory at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament in January, there has only been one tournament in which Kisenosato competed all 15 days.
Of the two other yokozuna, Kakuryu withdrew before the start of the tournament because of injury while Harumafuji pulled out on the third day after admitting he had assaulted another sumo wrestler.
It is the second time in as many meets that three yokozuna ended up on the casualty list. Harumafuji, who won the autumn basho in September, was the sole yokozuna competing at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan after the other three pulled out due to injuries.