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Friday, Jan. 17, 2003

Asashoryu motors on; Taka wins in return

Ozeki Asashoryu demolished fellow-Mongolian Kyokutenho to remain the only undefeated wrestler Thursday while yokozuna Takanohana staged an injury comeback with an easy win over journeyman Toki at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

News photo
Yokozuna Takanohana forces out No. 2 maegashira Toki.

In a lopsided affair, Asashoryu gave his second-ranked compatriot a small dose of the boiling aspirations propelling him juggernaut-style toward becoming the first Mongolian yokozuna at Tokyo's Ryokoku Kokugikan.

Unmerciful, the Takasago-stable ozeki grabbed Kyokutenho (3-2) by the belt soon after the faceoff and spun him in a whirlwind that sent the No. 2 maegashira crashing to the clay surface with a hard thud.

Asashoryu, who with 13 wins or more and back-to-back Emperor's Cup titles could be promoted to yokozuna, pulled ahead of the pack with a spotless 5-0 record.

Takanohana, who pulled out with a shoulder injury Monday only to announce his return two days later, had few worries against the winless No. 2 maegashira Toki in the day's final bout.

Toki got the edge, immediately backing up the yokozuna with a stiff-arm to the throat, but when Takanohana resisted, the second-ranked wrestler meekly retreated over the edge.

Takanohana, who sat out the Kyushu meet in November because of a chronic knee injury, got his 700th career win and stands at 3-1-1, despite speculation that his sumo days might be numbered.

A listless Tochiazuma (0-5) could still find no signs of life as the ozeki was slammed to the clay with an arm throw by third-ranked Dejima (4-1).

Musoyama (2-3) brought further embarrassment to the ozeki camp, falling easily to No. 3 maegashira Kotonowaka (1-4) in a frontal crush-out.

In the earlier bouts, 14th-ranked Kasugao from South Korea bounced back from the brink of defeat to shove down 10th-ranked Gojoro (3-2) and stayed one win off the pace.

Meanwhile, rank-and-filer Tamakasuga has pulled out of the tournament after suffering a knee injury. The No. 12 maegashira will need two months to recover.



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