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Sunday, Jan. 23, 2005

Asashoryu keeps slate clean

The Associated Press

Grand champion Asashoryu defeated Miyabiyama and remained undefeated at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday, a day after clinching his 10th Emperor's Cup.

Fighting in the final bout at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan, Mongolian Asashoryu swatted the sekiwake wrestler down to improve to 14-0 with one day remaining in the 15-day meet. Miyabiyama, who appeared to lose his footing, dropped to 9-5.

Asashoryu won the New Year title on Friday after his nearest rivals -- Mongolian Hakuho and South Korean Kasugao -- both lost.

With his 10th title, Asashoryu joined sumo greats Kitanoumi, Chiyonofuji and Taiho as the only wrestlers to win the New Year meet for three straight years since the establishment of the six-tournament system in 1958.

If he finishes with a win on the final day, it would mark the second straight year that Asashoryu has gone undefeated in the New Year tourney.

In other major bouts, sekiwake Tochiazuma (10-4) is poised for a return to the ozeki ranks after nailing down his 10th win in a bout against top maegashira Tochinonada, who fell to 4-10.

Chiyotaikai improved to 8-6 and wrapped up the winning record he needs to maintain his ozeki status with a victory over sekiwake Wakanosato.

Wakanosato, who headed into the New Year tourney with a chance for promotion to ozeki, dropped to 6-8.

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