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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Asashoryu faces battle after second loss

Kyodo News

After an embarrassing first-day defeat, yokozuna Asashoryu hit rock bottom at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday.

The Mongolian grand champion was sent crashing to his second defeat in a row by former ozeki Miyabiyama in the day's final bout at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.

Asashoryu never got his offense rolling against Miyabiyama, who slapped the yokozuna around the dohyo before shoving him into the ringside seats.

"I just wanted to keep him at bay and move forward," said Miyabiyama. "I feel a little strange to get a win over a yokozuna at my age," said the 29-year-old Miyabiyama, who improved to 1-1.

Asashoryu was left scratching his head and his ego deflated after countryman Tokitenku handily dumped the yokozuna to the dohyo surface from behind on Sunday.

It was an ominous start for Asashoryu, who shot down accusations of bout-rigging from a weekly tabloid after winning his 20th Emperor's Cup at the New Year meet in January.

After being promoted to yokozuna four years ago, Asashoryu, who is gunning for his fifth straight title, had not suffered a first-day defeat since the 2005 autumn meet and it appears his confidence may have been shaken by the allegations.

Three of sumo's five ozeki, including Chiyotaikai, Hakuho and Kotooshu, also were saddled with first-day defeats but each one posted convincing wins on Monday.

Chiyotaikai made mincemeat out of Asasekiryu (0-2), power-driving the No. 2 maegashira into the ringside seats with his trademark thrusting attack to improve to 1-1.

Tochiazuma (2-0), who must notch eight wins this time out to maintain his ozeki status, made short work of Mongolian Kyokutenho (0-2) to continue a strong start out of the blocks.

But Kaio was sent sprawling to a first defeat immediately after the faceoff after South Korean rank-and-filer Kasugao (2-0) dumped the ozeki with an armlock maneuver.



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