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Thursday, Jan. 22, 2004

Asashoryu edges ever closer

Grand champion Asashoryu edged closer to his fifth Emperor's Cup after tearing through rank-and-filer Kakizoe for his 11th straight win at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday.

Winners   Losers
Kaiho 6-5   Wakatoba 2-9
Tochisakae 7-4   Kitazakura 2-9
Yotsukasa 4-7   Takanowaka 3-8
Takanonami 6-5   Hayateumi 6-5
Kinkaiyama 5-6   Ushiomaru 5-6
Asanowaka 8-3   Kotoryu 5-6
Jumonji 6-5   Tamakasuga 4-7
Aminishiki 8-3   Buyuzan 8-3
Shimotori 8-3   Miyabiyama 7-4
Dejima 7-4   Asasekiryu 5-6
Kokkai 7-4   Kasuganishiki 3-8
Kyokushuzan 5-6   Tokitsuumi 3-8
Hokutoriki 4-7   Kyokutenho 4-7
Takekaze 3-8   Toki 1-7
Wakanosato 7-4   Iwakiyama 3-8
Tosanoumi 3-8   Takamisakari 3-8
Tochinonada 4-7   Chiyotaikai 9-2
Kotomitsuki 9-2   Tochiazuma 7-4
Kaio 9-2   Tamanoshima 4-7
Asashoryu 11-0   Kakizoe 8-3

The fiery Mongolian maintained his flawless record and went two wins clear at the top of the leaderboard at the 15-day meet by blasting out Kakizoe in a matter of seconds in the day's final bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan. Kakizoe dropped to 8-3.

Asashoryu got some breathing space at the top as ozeki Chiyotaikai suffered a second shock defeat, this time at the hands of komusubi Tochinonada, and dropped into a three-way tie with rank-and-filer Kotomitsuki and ozeki Kaio at 9-2.

Chiyotaikai, who is seeking his fourth title and first since winning the 2003 spring basho, found himself teetering on the edge of the ring after Tochinonada weathered an early attack and came back with a pair of strong shoves.

The ozeki managed to regroup and launched a counter attack of his own but Tochinonada (4-7) read him like a book and took his opponent down by the back of the neck for the shock win.

After blowing his chances of promotion to yokozuna with a third loss on Tuesday, ozeki Tochiazuma suffered another setback when he was dumped to his fourth defeat after being outclassed by Kotomitsuki.

Tochiazuma looked set to bounce back by taking control after the charge only to run out of steam in a lengthy stalemate and succumb as Kotomitsuki dispatched him into the front row of seats.

The 27-year-old, who won the Kyushu tournament last November, had needed 13 wins to secure promotion to sumo's top rank but is now fighting for his pride and a winning record here.

Kaio kept his faint title hopes alive with an elbow-clamp force-down win over faltering sekiwake Tamanoshima (4-7).

Elsewhere, sekiwake Tosanoumi overpowered popular maegashira Takamisakari to leave both wrestlers with 3-8 records while komusubi Wakanosato tipped over second-ranked Iwakiyama (3-8) to move to 7-4.

Further down the ranks, Georgian wrestler Kokkai moved within one victory of a winning record on his makuuchi division debut as he disposed of fifth-ranked Kasuganishiki (3-8) to improve to 7-4.

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