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Sunday, March 23, 2003

Chiyotaikai just one win away

OSAKA (Kyodo) Ozeki Chiyotaikai reigned supreme over Miyabiyama to move one win away from claiming his third championship title Saturday but yokozuna debutant Asashoryu slipped to his fourth loss at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

In the day's penultimate bout, Chiyotaikai would not budge an inch as he unraveled a flurry of slaps to set the ninth-ranked maegashira up for the coup de grace and grabbed the sole lead at 11-3 on the 14th day of action at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.

The former ozeki hit hard himself but not quite hard enough as Chiyotaikai wrenched him to the clay by the back of the neck and out of contention for the hardware spoils at 9-5.

Meanwhile, the Mongolian grand champion powerhouse crumbled like a breadstick as he went head-to-head with ozeki Kaio.

Kaio, back after a two tourney absence through injury, hardly broke a sweat as he twisted down the charging Asashoryu immediately after the face-off to move into a two-way tie with the yokozuna at 10-4.

Chiyotaikai will claim his third Emperor's Cup with a win over Asashoryu on Sunday. A playoff will occur between the pair should Asashoryu win. But a three-man playoff could happen if Chiyotaikai loses and Kaio beats Kotomitsuki.

In other bouts, seventh-ranked Mongolian Kyokushuzan (9-5) smacked down Kotomitsuki (5-9) in a matter of seconds for his first win over the sekiwake while crowd favorite Takamisakari got his "kachikoshi" eighth win with a powerful takeout of Wakanosato (8-6).

The second-ranked maegashira pumped up the crowd with his usual histrionics before ramming the sekiwake out with brute force.

Top maegashira Kyokutenho notched his eighth win with a shove out of fourth-ranked Tamanoshima (7-7) while 11th-ranked Hokutoriki (9-5) did a job on komusubi Dejima (8-6) for a convincing win.

Spunky fifth-ranked Kaiho railroaded komusubi Tosanoumi, leaving both men at 7-7.



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