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Saturday, Jan. 18, 2003

Takanohana back on track

Yokozuna Takanohana wrapped up top-ranked maegashira Tosanoumi for a comfortable win Friday while ozeki Asashoryu carted away another victim to remain unbeaten at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

The anticlimactic final bout at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan depressed onlookers, as Takanohana, who returned a day earlier after a one-day absence, absorbed Tosanoumi's charge and shoved him cleanly over the edge from behind to quickly end the affair.

Takanohana now stands at 4-1-1 and is gradually gaining momentum but is still a firefly in comparison to the red-hot Asashoryu, who this time wreaked havoc on Aminishiki.

The Mongolian powerhouse duplicated his previous day's performance with a side-winding belt throw on the fourth-ranked maegashira to move to a 6-0 record.

The rest of the ozeki camp, however, continues to suffer from a deepening malaise.

Musoyama fell to his fourth defeat, meekly losing in a frontal force-out to komusubi Wakanosato (4-2) in uncharacteristic fashion.

Meanwhile, winless ozeki Tochiazuma lost by default to komusubi Takanonami (4-2) after pulling out with an injury, increasing the number of absentee ozeki at the tourney to three following Kaio and Chiyotaikai, who are also nursing wounds.

Third-ranked Dejima (5-1) steamrolled over sixth-ranked Kyokushuzan (3-3) in a relentless assault similar to his healthy days as a top ozeki.

Earlier, Kasugao, a 13th-ranked wrestler from South Korea newly promoted to the makuuchi division, continued his brilliant performance with an emphatic win over No. 9 maegashira Akinoshima (1-5) to stay in a group of four one behind the Mongolian leader.

Tochiazuma pulls out

Out-of-form ozeki Tochiazuma (0-6) pulled out of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament Friday after dislocating his shoulder.

The Tamanoi stable grappler had a disastrous opening to the meet, losing all of his first five bouts to rank-and-filers but was forced to pull out after his left shoulder popped out in Thursday's bout against Dejima. He is expected to be sidelined for two months.



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