Ozeki Goeido remains the act to beat after he improved to 9-1 on Tuesday with five days remaining at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament.
Goeido has been an extremely tricky opponent so far in the 15-day event at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan, feinting and dodging his way to several of the victories he badly needed here. After suffering a losing record in July in Nagoya, Goeido entered this tournament needing eight wins to secure his ozeki status.
But this time, instead of a feint, Goeido launched a frontal assault on komusubi Tochiozan (3-7), waiting until his opponent was off balance near the straw before outflanking him and shoving him out with a flurry of blows.
The win left Goeido leading by one win over No. 3 maegashira Chiyotairyu (8-2), who was left gasping for breath after securing his eighth win.
Top-ranked maegashira Tochinoshin (1-9) exploited an early opening to push Chiyotairyu back to the straw but could not finish what he started.
A stalemate appeared in the making until Tochinoshin broke it by hoisting up Chiyotairyu off his feet. When that move fizzled, however, Chiyotairyu tried the same thing and made a go of it. He lifted Tochinoshin to the edge of the straw and shoved him out to remain in the thick of the championship race.
Former ozeki Kotoshogiku (6-4) outlasted up-and-coming No. 3 maegashira Onosho to hand him his third loss and knock him two wins back of the lead.
With the wrestlers trying to wrap up each other's arms, the youngster appeared at a loss about how to proceed, while Kotoshogiku, currently a No. 1 maegashira, was able to gain some leverage and topple his opponent.
In the day's final bout, yokozuna Harumafuji was dealt his fourth loss when he was slapped to the surface by No. 5 maegashira Takakeisho, both standing at 6-4.
The tournament has been noticeable by the absence of five top wrestlers following the withdrawal of three yokozuna Hakuho, Kakuryu and Kisenosato and two ozeki Takayasu and Terunofuji.