Grand champion Hakuho of Mongolia defeated Kaio yesterday to stay tied for the lead with compatriot Asashoryu at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.
In the day's final bout, Hakuho improved to 12-1 when he forced ozeki Kaio out after a prolonged standoff in the middle of the ring. Kaio dropped to 8-5.
In the previous bout, grand champion Asashoryu deployed a textbook arm throw at the edge of the ring to improve to 12-1 after sending Kotomitsuki (7-6) toppling off the raised ring.
With two days left in the 15-day tourney, Asashoryu and Hakuho appear headed for a showdown on the final day.
Hakuho won two titles last year in Asashoryu's absence and will be out to prove he can win even with his main rival in the ring.
In other major bouts, No. 8 maegashira Kakuryu stayed in the hunt for the Emperor's Cup when he forced out top maegashira Tokitenku in an earlier bout to improve to 11-2. Tokitenku dropped to 6-7.
No. 7 maegashira Takekaze kept his slim title hopes alive when he took advantage of a poor faceoff by Kotooshu and swatted the ozeki out to improve to 10-3. Kotooshu dropped to 7-6.