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Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2003

Takanohana survives Miyabiyama rematch

Yokozuna Takanohana got more than he bargained for against Miyabiyama on Monday but still emerged the victor for his second straight win at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

The Futagoyama stable grand champion got entangled with the top-ranked maegashira as each wrestler tried his best to maneuver for position in the final bout at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Miyabiyama then slipped a deft leg behind Takanohana and flipped the yokozuna to the clay with thunderous impact but judges called for a rematch after ruling both grapplers had touched the surface simultaneously.

Takanohana ruled the day in the rematch. He quickly tossed Miyabiyama (1-1) over the edge using an uncanny belt throw to keep on pace with upstart Asashoryu from Mongolia at 2-0.

Ozeki Asashoryu, a fiery soldier from the land of Genghis Khan, continued to add momentum and destruction in his wake -- this time brutalizing third-ranked Dejima (1-1) with a no-holds-barred frontal assault.

Asashoryu, who is keen on becoming the first Mongolian yokozuna with back-to-back Emperor's Cups and a proper showing here, sent the former ozeki reeling back and over the bales with eye-popping speed while wrenching his belt to draw him off-balance.

In the day's upset, Tochiazuma's bout between top-ranked Tosanoumi (1-1) was over before it began when the ozeki slipped down on the sandy surface immediately after the face-off, leaving him at a depressing 0-2.

Ozeki Musoyama (1-1), however, got back on track after a first-day loss, hemming up veteran Takanonami (1-1) with a quick frontal force-out.

Sekiwake Takanowaka propelled third-ranked grappler Kotonowaka (0-2) with a flurry of slaps and thrusts to notch his second win but fellow sekiwake Kotomitsuki (0-2) got twisted down by fourth-ranked Tokitsuumi (2-0).

In earlier bouts, the diminutive fifth-ranked Kaiho showed little mercy on Toki (0-2), marching the No. 2 maegashira over the edge to post his second victory.

Ninth-ranked Takamisakari (2-0) once again built the crowd to frenzy by banging his chest in exaggerated rage but backed up his posturing with a superb dismantling of No. 6 Kyokushuzan (0-2).

Kasugao (2-0), a 13th-ranked maegashira from South Korea, battled back from the brink of his first loss in the elite makuuchi division to shove out 12th-ranked Tamakasuga (0-2) in a last-gasp effort.



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