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Sunday, July 21, 2002

Chiyotaikai just one win away

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Ozeki Chiyotaikai plowed out No. 8 maegashira Shimotori for his 13th win to move within touching distance of his second Emperor's Cup at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday.

Mongolian sekiwake Asashoryu, however, ensured that the title race will go down to the wire after he rewrote the script by handing hapless yokozuna Musashimaru his third straight defeat in the day's final bout at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.

Chiyotaikai, who can secure the title Sunday by defeating Musashimaru in the final bout of the 15-day meet, needed to do little more than flex his muscles as he charged Shimotori (9-5) out of the ring within seconds of the face-off.

The 1999 New Year champion then took his seat at the edge of the ring for Saturday's finale knowing a defeat for Asashoryu would hand him the title. The spunky sekiwake, however, refused to cooperate.

Asashoryu (12-2) virtually guaranteed himself promotion to sumo's second-highest rank of ozeki -- a feat yet to be achieved by a Mongolian wrestler -- as he eked out a gritty win over Musashimaru (10-4).

Soon after exchanging pleasantries with the Samoan-born giant at center ring, Asashoryu turned on all cylinders to dish out a series of slaps and thrusts before ushering his opponent over the straw bales.

All smiles on the way back to the dressing room, Asashoryu, now 4-4 in the head-to-head meetings with Musashimaru, on Sunday takes on fellow sekiwake Wakanosato, who slipped to 10-4 after being blasted out by sixth-ranked maegashira Kotomitsuki (7-7).

In earlier bouts, Mongolian No. 8 maegashira Kyokutenho (8-6) was given a hiding by in-form Tamanoshima (11-3) while compatriot Kyokushuzan, with just one default win to his name in this tournament, was bumped out to his 13th loss by Hamanishiki (4-10).

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