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Saturday, May 26, 2001

Taka virtually wraps up title

Yokozuna Takanohana weathered a fierce clash with Chiyotaikai and muscled out the upset-minded ozeki to virtually wrap up his 22nd Emperor's Cup at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday.

Takanohana remained composed as Chiyotaikai unleashed a barrage of thrusts and slaps at the face-off of the day's main event at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan as he rolled to his 13th win.

Chiyotaikai (11-2), needing a win to draw even with the front-running grand champion and keep alive his title hopes, desperately backed the yokozuna near the edge of the ring but allowed Takanohana to get in close and then calmly escort him out of the ring.

Takanohana can secure the championship with a win Saturday over ozeki Musoyama or over fellow yokozuna Musashimaru on the final day of the basho.

Yokozuna Musashimaru, meanwhile, muscled his way to his 11th victory over Tochiazuma using an elbow-clamp to lift the sekiwake out of the ring to keep alive his slim hopes of lifting the trophy on Sunday.

The winner of an elimination bout on Saturday between Musashimaru and Chiyotaikai can only hope for two losses from Takanohana, who shows no signs of squandering a sure victory.

Meanwhile, komusubi Asashoryu (7-6), who is in danger of being saddled with the first losing record of his career, sent Kotonowaka sprawling to the dirt with a well-timed overarm throw, showing his resolve to post at least eight wins at the tournament.

Ozeki Dejima (4-9), who has been struggling the entire tournament, found a fresh burst of energy, barreling ahead to shove No. 6 maegashira Tokitsuumi from the ring.

Ozeki Musoyama fought his way to a winning record against rank-and-filer Tochisakae, shoving his opponent out of the ring after being taken to the straw ridge from the initial charge.

In the lower ranks, Mongolia's Kyokushuzan (9-4) threw down Tosanoumi (5-8) to ensure a nice promotion for the Nagoya tourney in July, while compatriot Kyokutenho (6-7) sent out Asanowaka (6-7) to avoid his eighth loss and relegation -- at least, for another day.

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