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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Asashoryu still in driver's seat in Nagoya

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Mongolian Yokozuna Asashoryu overpowered sekiwake Miyabiyama to maintain his blemish-free record in the lead Tuesday while ozeki Hakuho dodged a bullet against Estonian Baruto to rebound from the previous day's defeat at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

Asashoryu wasted little time after the charge, knocking Miyabiyama off-balance and sending the sekiwake crumbling to a fifth defeat while improving his own mark to 10-0 in the day's final bout at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.

Asashoryu is aiming for his career 17th title and first since his triumph at the spring basho in March. Miyabiyama saw his hopes for ozeki promotion all but dashed as he slipped to 5-5. Ozeki Chiyotaikai and rank-and-filers Tamakasuga and Tamanoshima are one off the pace at the 15-day meet.

In another key bout, Hakuho was shoved backward by Baruto but regained his composure as he got both hands wrapped around his burly opponent and toppled him with a mighty effort over the ridge. Buruto, in his second meet in the top flight, fell to 6-4.

Hakuho is chasing promotion to yokozuna but needs to capture his second straight title with 13 wins -- meaning he must win all of his remaining bouts and hope for a miracle.

In an all-ozeki affair, Chiyotaikai appeared to retreat at the charge against Bulgarian big man Kotooshu but got back on track, deploying his trademark thrusting attack before shoving his rival over the edge to stay one behind at 9-1. Kotooshu fell to 6-4.

Tochiazuma, however, was dumped by rival ozeki Kaio, who used a deft right-handed belt throwing technique to send Tochiazuma sprawling to a second straight loss. Kaio improved his mark to 7-3.

In other major bouts, sekiwake Kotomitsuki (6-4) rammed out Futeno in a matter of seconds, giving his opponent a cheeky shove for emphasis after Futeno (5-5) stepped over the edge.

Crowd favorite Takamisakari strutted back to the dressing room after winning a lopsided match against Kakizoe.



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