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Wednesday, May 10, 2000

Taka cruises, Akebono loses

Takanohana put on a clinic Tuesday to preserve his unbeaten record, but yokozuna rival Akebono lost the plot badly and flopped to his first defeat on Day 3 of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament.

Top-ranked maegashira Asanowaka had little chance against Takanohana, who kept his center of gravity low as he cut off his opponent's ring space and forced him out to his second loss in the penultimate bout of the day at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Takanohana, chasing his 21st Emperor's Cup, then sat ringside to watch Akebono take on sekiwake Tochiazuma and left the arena in a nine-way tie for the lead at 3-0.

Akebono, winless since May 1997, never looked comfortable against Tochiazuma, who halted a five-bout losing skid against the Hawaiian-born giant with a clever victory, leaving both wrestlers at 2-1 in the 15-day meet.

Tochiazuma took advantage of Akebono's poor footwork by hitting hard at the face-off and then dragging down the yokozuna, who went into a roly-poly before coming to rest on the edge of the raised ring.

Sekiwake Miyabiyama, who needs double digits in wins to be almost certain of promotion to ozeki, had little trouble with winless Daizen, quickly bulldozing out the No. 3 maegashira to boost his record to 3-0.

Takanonami, who has to post eight wins to avoid demotion from ozeki after a losing record at the spring tourney in Osaka, cranked up the power to force out komusubi Tosanoumi (1-2) and preserve his unbeaten record.

Chiyotaikai, meanwhile, sidestepped and slapped down No. 1 maegashira Tochinonada (1-2) to improve to 2-1, but fellow ozeki Dejima slipped to 1-2 after being thrown down by third-ranked Oginishiki (2-1) in a fiercely contested bout.

Komusubi Takatoriki, the surprise title winner in March, finally got off the mark by outfoxing winless Wakanoyama at the charge and slapping down the No. 2 maegashira to notch his first victory.

It was a bad day at the office for the top makuuchi division's two Mongolians as No. 4 maegashira Kyokushuzan (0-3) and sixth-ranked Kyokutenho (2-1) both hit the dirt in lopsided bouts.

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