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Thursday, July 20, 2006

New day, another victory for Asa

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Yokozuna Asashoryu posted yet another convincing win to open up a two-win lead at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament after his nearest pursuers, including ozeki Chiyotaikai, all lost on Wednesday.

Asashoryu (11-0) bulldozed ozeki Tochiazuma (8-3) out of the ring to maintain his perfect record and move two wins clear of four wrestlers with four days left in the 15-day meet at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.

Asashoryu, aiming for his 17th career title after skipping the summer meet with an injured right elbow, deftly maneuvered to prevent Tochiazuma from holding his belt and unleashed a series of timely shoves to give the ozeki no chance.

Chiyotaikai (9-2) suffered a major setback in his title chase in his 1,000th career bout after being caught in a trick at the faceoff against giant Estonian Baruto (7-4).

No. 4 maegashira Baruto sidestepped to the left to dodge Chiyotaikai's initial charge and caught the ozeki off-balance with a left-hand slap before waking him out of the ring from behind.

Hakuho (9-2) kept alive his hopes of earning promotion to sumo's highest rank of yokozuna, disposing of fellow ozeki Kotooshu (6-5), who was overpowered by the Mongolian in a belt-gripping duel.

Hakuho took advantage of the left-hand belt grip he took moments after the faceoff and muscled out Kotooshu after shrugging off a late attempt by the Bulgarian to turn the table around.

Hakuho won the summer meet in his debut at ozeki and is believed to need 13 wins to be considered for promotion to yokozuna.

In other bouts, sekiwake Kotomitsuki beat veteran ozeki Kaio with a perfectly executed belt throw, leaving both men at 7-4.

Russian No. 3 maegashira Roho hauled down slumping top-ranked maegashira Kotoshogiku (1-10) with a powerful throw that gave him his fifth win in his return from a three-day suspension.

Roho, who was suspended for losing his temper and attacking photographers following a defeat on Saturday, received a relatively warm reception from the crowd.

Sekiwake Miyabiyama (6-5), whose hopes of climbing back into the ozeki rank had effectively been dashed, salvaged some pride with a comfortable force-out win over second-ranked maegashira Hakurozan (2-9), Roho's younger brother.

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