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Sunday, March 16, 2003

Asashoryu handed second loss

OSAKA (Kyodo) Yokozuna debutant Asashoryu was stunned for the second time in an overwhelming defeat to komusubi Dejima at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday.

Ozeki Chiyotaikai, however, looked ever-more impressive as he banged up another hapless victim to remain the sole leader with an unblemished 7-0 record at the 15-day meet at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.

In the day's finale, the 22-year-old Mongolian grand champion from Ulan Bator appeared to get the upperhand with an inside right-hand grip on Dejima's sash as the bout got under way.

Things went drastically wrong from there as the former ozeki reached in for a frontal grip of his own and quickly powered the yokozuna backwards over the bales as the crowd erupted in mayhem.

Asashoryu, who is aiming to become the first yokozuna debutant to win the Spring basho and his third straight Emperor's Cup, took a hard blow as he now sits in a logjam of nine wrestlers at 5-2 while rank-and-filer Hokutoriki remains one off the pace at 6-1.

Chiyotaikai demolished Kotonowaka (3-4) with a hard body slam after the face-off that sent the third-rank wrestler reeling unceremoniously over the straw ridge.

After missing the last two bouts with an arm injury, Chiyotaikai, needing just one win to keep his ozeki status, now appears the leading contender for the coveted hardware.

In another upset, ozeki Kaio appeared distracted after being called for a false start and was whisked gruffly over the edge by top-ranked veteran Takanonami, leaving both men at 4-3.

Kaio, who returned after a two basho absence through injury, continues to struggle as he tries to cling to his ozeki rank by notching at least eight wins.

In other bouts, Wakanosato dropped limply to his fourth loss in a one-way affair with komusubi Tosanoumi (4-3) while fellow sekiwake Kotomitsuki (2-5) was manhandled by top-dog maegashira Kyokutenho (5-2) from Mongolia.

Crowd favorite No. 2 maegashira Takamisakari (2-5) halted a three-day losing streak with an emphatic win over second-ranked Tochinonada (3-4).



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