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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Asashoryu pummels Toyonoshima, evens record

Mongolian rank-and-filer Kakuryu improves to 4-0; ozeki Kaio, Kootoshu both upset

OSAKA (Kyodo) Mongolian grand champion Asashoryu got back on level terms by overpowering Toyonoshima to register his second win at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday.

News photo
Ozeki Tochiazuma pushes out sekiwake Kotomitsuki to stay undefeated in the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium on Wednesday. KYODO PHOTO

After suffering shock defeats on the first two days of the 15-day meet, Asashoryu looked back to his best as he comfortably improved his record to 2-2 in the day's final bout at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.

Asashoryu wasted no time in wrapping Toyonoshima (3-1) up in a double arm lock and the yokozuna patiently worked the top-ranked maegashira to the edge of the ring before squashing him on the sandy surface.

Asashoryu came into the tournament aiming to shrug of accusations of match-fixing by the weekly magazine Shukan Gendai earlier this year and appears to have regained confidence after his early hiccups.

The yokozuna vehemently denied the allegations and after conducting an internal investigation, the Japan Sumo Association found no wrongdoing and has filed a defamation suit against the magazine's publisher.

In other bouts of note, relegation-threatened ozeki Tochiazuma maintained his perfect start to share the lead with Mongolian rank-and-filer Kakuryu at 4-0 but ozeki Kaio and Kootoshu were sentenced to shock defeats.

Kotooshu (2-2), the only wrestler in the current ozeki field without a title to his name, was the day's first major casualty as Kyokutenho knocked down the Bulgarian to claim his first win of the meet.

"I had lost my previous two bouts and that was starting to play on my mind so it is nice to get a win. The next target will be to level my record," said Kyokutenho.

In the following bout, ozeki Hakuho had to dig deep to avoid a similar fate to Kotooshu but prevailed by yanking fellow Mongolian Ama (1-3) around like a rag doll at the ring's edge for a third win.

Chiyotaikai (3-2) followed suit as he came back to unhinge young hope Kisenosato (2-2) with a series of devastating shoves while Tochiazuma moved halfway to reaching the eight wins he needs to save his rank by outmaneuvering Kotomitsuki and blasting the sekiwake out to a first loss.

Aging grappler Kaio (1-3) looked out of sorts in the day's penultimate matchup and Kotoshogiku (1-3) got both arms wrapped around the ozeki and waltzed him over the straw bales.

In other bouts, crowd-pleaser Takamisakari evened his mark at 2-2 by countering to tip Russian No.7 maegashira Roho over to third defeat but Georgian grappler Kokkai was saddled with his first loss after being forced out by Tamanoshima (2-2).



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