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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Hakuho bounces back from shocking early loss

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Mongolian ozeki Hakuho rebounded from a stunning first-day loss with a disposal of countryman Kyokutenho Monday, while grand champion Asashoryu overpowered rank-and-filer Roho to stay undefeated at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

Hakuho, who won the summer meet in his debut at sumo's second-highest rank in May, was sent to a shock defeat by compatriot Asasekiryu on Sunday but made no mistake in his bout the following day with Kyokutenho at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.

The 21-year-old ozeki got a left-handed grip under the mawashi of Kyokutenho immediately after the faceoff and sent the No. 2 maegashira sprawling to the clay to improve to 1-1. Kyokutenho dropped to 0-2.

Hakuho is aiming to become the third wrestler in the modern sumo era to gain promotion to grand champion in just his second tournament from his debut at ozeki by winning a second consecutive title at the Nagoya meet.

In the day's finale, Asashoryu, whose right elbow is taped, was in control from start to finish against Roho, twirling the No. 3 maegashira around the ring before sending him tumbling to the dirt, improving his record to 2-0. Roho slipped to 1-1.

The Mongolian yokozuna missed the summer meet with an elbow injury but is still a heavy favorite in the title race to win his 17th career Emperor's Cup after nearly returning to form.

Mongolian trickster Kyokushuzan tried a mind game on sekiwake Miyabiyama before the faceoff, keeping his distance from the line, then moving up after a false start.

But Miyabiyama, who needs 11 wins to regain his ozeki status for the first time in five years, was never fooled as he charged straight ahead with heavy thrusts and shoved out the top-ranked maegashira in textbook fashion.

Relegation-threatened ozeki Tochiazuma rolled over Russian Hakurozan, getting both hands wrapped around his opponent before tossing him into the ringside seats. Tochiazuma improved to 2-0 while Hakurozan fell to 1-1.

Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu also notched a win.



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