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Friday, Nov. 22, 2002

Asashoryu moves to within one of title

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Ozeki Asashoryu moved a win away from claiming his first makuuchi-division title in a classic brains-over-brawn win against sekiwake Kotomitsuki at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Thursday.

With the victory and just three days remaining in the 15-day meet, the hot-blooded Mongolian (11-1) has all but assured himself his first-ever Emperor's Cup with the nearest challengers all at 8-4.

Asashoryu, who fell to rank-and filer Tochinonada a day earlier, was refreshingly brisk in the day's premier bout, quickly baiting in Kotomitsuki for a perfectly executed and earth-shaking over-arm throw at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.

The sekiwake, who still leads the rivalry 6-4, took the bait -- hook, line and sinker -- as Asashoryu deftly reached his right hand around for a generous portion of sash and, in a sweeping motion, deposited Kotomitsuki with a thud on the clay surface of the raised ring.

Tochiazuma (8-4), who had been in danger of losing his ozeki status, got a breath of fresh air with a come-from-behind win over No. 5 maegashira Shimotori (6-6).

Shimotori had a slight edge out of the crouch and thundered forward, pushing the ozeki to the edge. But Tochiazuma flipped behind Shimotori and administered his own shove out for a somewhat lucky win that will keep him at sumo's second-highest rank in the New Year meet.

Musoyama (8-4) had to suck up some pain from a throbbing right pinky finger but got both arms clasped around the back of Tochinonada (6-6) and maneuvered his body for a beltless arm throw.

Top-ranked maegashira Takanonami put up a valiant effort against Toki but was wrenched off-balance by the seventh-ranked wrestler near the edge for a loss, leaving both wrestlers at 8-4. Takanonami, a former ozeki, needs just two victories to notch double-digit wins for the first time in 17 meets.

Surgery for Maru

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Yokozuna Musashimaru, who withdrew from the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament last week, will undergo surgery on his injured left wrist and sit out the New Year meet in January, stablemaster Musashigawa said Thursday.

Higonoumi to quit

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Thirteenth-ranked juryo wrestler Higonoumi, a former maegashira in sumo's elite makuuchi division, has decided to retire after falling to his ninth loss at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday.

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