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Thursday, Sept. 12, 2002

Yokozuna duo keeps the pressure on

It wasn't pretty, but yokozuna Takanohana did enough to muscle out maegashira top gun Miyabiyama on Wednesday and chalk up his third win in the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament.

Takanohana's sheer determination to prove that he is still No. 1 after missing the last seven tournaments through injury shone through as he huffed and puffed before shunting Miyabiyama (2-2) over ring's edge in the day's finale at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Grand champion Musashimaru also flexed his muscles to move to 3-1 but the yokozuna duo continue to chase Asashoryu who labored to a fourth win to share the early lead with rank-and-filer Wakanoyama.

Musashimaru stayed in the hunt for his 12th Emperor's Cup and needed minimum effort in bellying out top-ranked maegashira Tochinonada, who has yet to break his duck four days into the tournament.

Asashoryu, facing a tricky opponent in compatriot Kyokutenho (2-2) who had earlier handed Takanohana a shock defeat, needed to dig deep into his energy reserves to protect his spotless record and complete a clean sweep for ozeki.

Locked in a prolonged stalemate at center ring, the saucy ozeki wriggled fee, and taking advantage of Kyokutenho's poor footwork, forced the No. 3 maegashira onto one leg before twisting him to the floor with an overarm throw.

Chiyotaikai (3-1) won few style points, but continued his march toward possible promotion to sumo's ultimate rank of yokozuna by quickly escorting veteran Takanonami (2-2) out of the ring in a one-sided bout.

Winless Shimotori proved to be a tough nut for Musoyama (3-1) to crack, but the ozeki produced enough gumption to dismantle the No. 2 maegashira with a sideways twist throw.

Kaio inched a step closer to the eight wins he needs to avoid demotion from ozeki by giving sekiwake Tosanoumi a good hiding, leaving both men one win off the pace at 3-1.

Sekiwake Wakanosato also improved to 3-1 with a no-nonsense win over Takamisakari, leaving the Azumazeki stable grappler still looking for his first "shiroboshi" on his debut at komusubi.

Further down sumo's top makuuchi division, Mongolian former komusubi Kyokushuzan notched his third win on the bounce by dragging down No. 8 maegashira Tamakasuga.

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