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Thursday, Jan. 20, 2005

Asashoryu closes in on Emperor's Cup

Grand champion Asashoryu threw down Kotonowaka on Wednesday to move a step closer to winning another Emperor's Cup at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

News photo
Maegashira Kyokutenho slams down fellow-Mongolian Hakuho during 11th-day action at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Mongolian Asashoryu grabbed hold of Kotonowaka's arm in the final bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan and flung the towering No. 2 maegashira down to improve to a perfect 11-0. Kotonowaka dropped to 3-8.

Asashoryu looks unstoppable in a tournament that has virtually lost all its drama. With just four days left, the only question seems to be by how wide a margin he will take home yet another Emperor's Cup.

Sekiwake Tochiazuma, Mongolians Hakuho and Kyokushuzan and rank-and-filer Kasugao are the only wrestlers with a slight glimmer of hope at 8-3.

Tochiazuma, who has returned to form in this tournament, came in low and barreled out Bulgarian Kotooshu to hand the No. 4 maegashira his fifth loss against six wins.

Sekiwake Wakanosato, who had a chance for promotion to ozeki, muscled out fan favorite Takamisakari for his sixth win but already has five losses and no chance to move up the ranks in the next tournament.

No. 5 maegashira Takamisakari dropped to an unflattering 4-7.

In an all-Mongolian showdown, Kyokutenho improved to 7-4 when he took advantage of Hakuho's inexperience to swat down the komusubi wrestler seconds after the faceoff.

Hakuho, who dropped to 8-3, came bursting out of the blocks and No. 6 maegashira Kyokutenho calmly stepped to his side and pushed his opponent down.

In other major bouts, ozeki Chiyotaikai (6-5) moved a step closer to the winning record he needs maintain his status when he used a barrage of arm thrusts to send Miyabiyama (7-4) over the straw ridge.

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