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Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2001


Yokozuna stay on course for showdown

Takanohana and Musashimaru remained on a collision course for the Emperor's Cup on Monday as the yokozuna rivals both posted convincing wins to preserve a two-way tie for the lead on 9-0 at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

Takanohana put on another clinic at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan, this time against No. 5 maegashira Tamakasuga (3-6), who tried desperately to keep the grand champion away from his belt, but found it as easy as treading quicksand and soon gave up the struggle.

Chasing his 21st Emperor's Cup after a drought of over two years, Takanohana showed excellent footwork and lower-body technique as he avoided Tamakasuga's early assault, before moving in to shut down his opponent's offense and muscle him over the straw bails.

Musashimaru picked up another easy win against No. 2 maegashira Kotonowaka, who displayed little stomach for improving his 4-4 record and quickly allowed the Samoan-born yokozuna to knock him off the raised ring.

Meanwhile, Kaio bulldozed his way to a 7-2 mark by shoving out No. 4 maegashira Tochiazuma (5-4) after a strong charge, while fellow ozeki Musoyama ran out top-ranked maegashira Takanonami (3-6) to post a sixth win in his campaign to defend his New Year title.

Dejima's form continued to nose-dive as the ozeki was levered out by Kotomitsuki -- runnerup in Kyushu last November -- and fell to 4-5 in the 15-day meet. Kotomitsuki improved to 2-7 in his first tourney at sekiwake.

Miyabiyama, one of the ozeki causing sumo officials to grumble about a drop in standards at sumo's second-highest rank, bundled out No. 7 maegashira Kotoryu to leave both wrestlers at 6-3, but not before annoying ringside judges with two false starts.

It was a clean sweep for the Mongolian trio as No. 8 maegashira Kyokutenho, 10th-ranked Kyokushuzan and 14th-ranked Asashoryu all tasted victory and finished the day with winning records.

Kyokutenho slapped down No. 14 maegashira Asanowaka (6-3) to improve to 7-2, Kyokushuzan dumped out 10th-ranked Hamanoshima (4-5) to boost his record to 5-4 and Makuuchi Division newcomer Asashoryu bullied ninth-ranked Tokitsuumi (4-5) for win No. 6.

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