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Saturday, May 24, 2003

Asashoryu closes in on Cup

Yokozuna Asashoryu employed a crafty leg technique to trip up ozeki Musoyama to move one win away from securing his first Emperor's Cup as grand champion with a 12-1 record at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday.

For Chiyotaikai, however, it was a day of utter disappointment as he fell to fellow ozeki Kaio for his third defeat and saw his chance for promotion to sumo's highest rank fizzle before his eyes at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

The Mongolian yokozuna took charge keeping the relegation-threatened ozeki at bay before circling from the right and sweeping out the leg to send Musoyama (6-7) crashing on his back in textbook fashion.

The win means Asashoryu can wrap up the 15-day meet by beating Kaio (10-3), who holds a 5-4 winning advantage over the yokozuna, on Saturday to claim the coveted hardware for his third time.

Chiyotaikai, who was to get the nod for yokozuna with 13 or more wins and the title, came up teary eyed after he was outmaneuvered by Kaio, who slapped the back of his neck to send him hurtling forward onto the clay.

It took longer than necessary, but ozeki Tochiazuma survived a lengthy affair with Tamanoshima (6-7) before knocking the third-ranked grappler over the ridge to win his seventh bout in Tokyo.

Tochiazuma finally can see light at the end of the tunnel with one more win necessary to retain his ozeki status.

Komusubi Kyokutenho simply overpowered Dejima (7-6) to win his fifth straight, using a two-handed belt grip to swiftly muscle the sekiwake over the straw bales.

Wakanosato (7-6) made it 0-for-2 for the sekiwake brass as he could muster no defense against the relentless charge of fifth-ranked Miyabiyama, who banged out his ninth win of the tourney.



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