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Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2002

Maru rebounds; Kaio, Musoyama fall

Yokozuna Musashimaru rebounded from an opening-day loss to open his account in convincing style Monday, but ozeki duo Kaio and Musoyama crumbled on the second day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

Newly promoted ozeki Tochiazuma survived a scare to keep a clean sheet in the 15-day meet at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan along with sekiwake Kotomitsuki, who remains on course for ozeki promotion with back-to-back wins.

Musashimaru put Sunday's upset defeat by komusubi Wakanosato behind him as the Samoan-born grand champion kept cool in a momentary midring tussle to maneuver for an arm position and easily toppled winless second-ranked maegashira Tamanoshima with powerful thrusts.

Wakanosato pulled off the heroics again -- this time against veteran ozeki Kaio (1-1) -- following a classic exchange of ring-edge throws that led to a midring conference by the judges and a rematch.

Wakanosato, considered a title dark horse after going 10-5 in November, overwhelmed Kaio with his devastating speed in their second bout of the day for a lopsided force-out win.

Tochiazuma shrugged off the pressure as an ozeki debutante and added a victory, sending Kaiho (1-1) flying over the straw bails despite being caught off-balance by the third-ranked maegashira, who stepped to his left in the face-off in a tactical move.

Sekiwake Kotomitsuki notched another convincing win to add to Sunday's defeat he inflicted on ozeki Musoyama, bulldozing No. 1 maegashira Akinoshima (0-2) out to improve to 2-0.

Musoyama became the only winless ozeki after being slapped down by second-ranked maegashira Toki (1-1), while Chiyotaikai got win No. 2 in his battle to escape relegation from sumo's second highest rank by forcing out Mongolian sekiwake Asashoryu (1-1).

In other action, Mongolians Kyokutenho and Kyokushuzan had another disappointing day and fell to their second straight losses.

Komusubi Kyokutenho succumbed to powerful shoves by veteran No. 3 maegashira Takanonami (2-0) while top-ranked maegashira Kyokushuzan showed little resistance and was handily forced out by No. 4 maegashira Chiyotenzan (1-1).



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