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Saturday, Nov. 25, 2006

Asashoryu one win away from 19th Cup

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Yokozuna Asashoryu zeroed in on his 19th Emperor's Cup after mugging Tochiazuma to record win No. 13 at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday.

News photo
Eleventh-ranked Maegashira Homasho (right) pushes No. 10 maegashira Kyokutenho out of the ring on the 13th day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament at Fukuoka Kokusai Center on Friday. KYODO PHOTO

Asashoryu got both hands on Tochiazuma's belt in the day's finale at Fukuoka Kokusai Center and marched the ozeki (9-4) out to extend his unbeaten streak and move within one victory of a third consecutive title.

With two days of the 15-day meet left, the 26-year-old Asashoryu holds a two-win cushion over rank-and-filer Homasho, who snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against Kyokutenho to keep his slim title hopes flickering.

Asashoryu came into the 15-day meet as the red-hot favorite, and a major obstacle was removed from his path to glory shortly before the start of the tournament when ozeki and Mongolian compatriot Hakuho withdrew because of a broken toe.

The grand champion can wrap up another fruitful year with a victory over Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu in the penultimate round of bouts Saturday.

In the day's other key bout, surprise package Homasho looked in all sorts of trouble after being forced onto one leg at the side of the ring by Kyokutenho.

But the 11th-ranked maegashira somehow managed to keep his balance and came roaring back to barge out his sixth-ranked Mongolian, who slipped to 8-5.

At sumo's second rank of ozeki, home favorite Kaio rebounded from Thursday's defeat to Asashoryu and moved into the double-digit win column after muscling out sekiwake Kotomitsuki (8-5) while Kotooshu took down Chiyotaikai to win an ozeki matchup, leaving both at 9-4.



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