Kotonowaka spun Takakeisho around shortly after the face-off and shoved the struggling ozeki out to improve to 9-2 in the 15-day Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament to stay in a tie for the lead with Atamifuji and Kirishima with four days to go.
"I tried to stay calm and was able to absorb a big hit at the face-off and my body moved well," Kotonowaka said. "I'll just try to keep an aggressive attitude going forward."
Takakeisho won the Autumn Basho and was hoping to earn promotion to yokozuna (grand champion), but with four losses already has virtually no chance now.
In an earlier bout, up-and-coming grappler Atamifuji overpowered fellow rank-and-filer Churanoumi (7-4) with several powerful arm thrusts to improve to 9-2.
No 8 maegashira Atamifuji lost in a playoff to Takakeisho in the Autumn Tournament and once again looks poised to battle for the Emperor's Cup in this basho.
Kirishima Heaps More Misery on Wakamotoharu
In the day's final bout at Fukuoka Kokusai Center, ozeki Kirishima maintained a share of the lead at 9-2 when he waltzed out sekiwake Wakamotoharu after getting a right-hand grip on the belt.
It has been a disastrous tournament for Wakamotoharu, who at one point was a possible ozeki candidate but at 4-7 is just struggling to stay at sekiwake.
Asanoyama, who returned from injury on Day 8, fell to one win, three losses and seven absences.
Ichiyamamoto suffered from a slow face-off and couldn't get any momentum going in the bout to drop to 8-3, one win off the pace.
Midorifuji Clinches Winning Record
Fifth-ranked maegashira Midorifuji got both arms around Hiradoumi and shoved out the 1th-ranked grappler to also improve to 8-3 and secure a winning record.
"It's been a while since I got a winning record," Midorifuji said. "I just tried to deny him a left-hand grip.”
He added, "I planned to use an arm throw but it turned into a shoving match. I'm happy with the win and will just try to keep the momentum going."
Hiradoumi dropped to 7-4 with his first loss to Midorifuji. But he could wrap up a winning record on Day 12.
No 10 maegashira Ryuden sealed a winning record when he backed Nishikigi up against the straw ridge and shoved his opponent out to move to 8-3. Fourth-ranked maegashira Nishikigi fell to 6-5.
"I just wanted to focus on attacking and I think that allowed me to get my eighth win," Ryuden said. "I've still got a few more matches to go and just want to win as many as possible."
- Asanoyama Returns to Kyushu Basho, Deals Takakeisho a Blow to His Promotion Chances
- Takakeisho Bounces Back to Defeat Takayasu on Day 5 of Kyushu Basho
Author: Jim Armstrong
The author is a longtime journalist who has covered sports in Japan for over 25 years. You can find his articles on SportsLook.
New Year Basho Tournament Records