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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Tochiazuma keeps slate clean

OSAKA (Kyodo) Yokozuna Asashoryu dispatched countryman Kyokutenho, raising the stakes with his fourth straight win at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday.

Asashoryu remained hot on the heels of undefeated Tochiazuma, who moved within two wins of the necessary eight to maintain his ozeki status.

In the day's finale at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, Asashoryu locked horns with Kyokutenho at the center of the ring and waited for the precise moment before deploying a twisting backward knee trip on the No. 2 maegashira to improve to 4-2. Kyokutenho dropped to 1-5.

The Mongolian yokozuna is in the hunt for his fifth straight title and 21st overall Emperor's Cup but has his back to the wall after losing his first two bouts at the 15-day meet.

Tochiazuma got a hold of newly promoted komusubi Tokitenku (2-4) by the back of the mawashi right after the faceoff before dumping his opponent with a well-timed pulling overarm throw.

Meanwhile, it was a day of mixed fortunes for sumo's four other ozeki.

Sekiwake Kotomitsuki (5-1) sent Kaio to his fourth loss in five bouts, grappling the ozeki by the bottom of the mawashi before ushering him over the straw bales to a 2-4 mark.

Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu (4-2) scooped up Mongolian rank-and-filer Asasekiryu (1-5), sending the No. 2 maegashira sprawling to the dohyo surface with a powerful overarm technique.

Mongolian ozeki Hakuho unleashed a salvo of vicious slaps to the face of Kotoshogiku (1-5) before swatting the newly promoted sekiwake to the dirt to improve to 5-1.

But ozeki Chiyotaikai (4-2) slipped on a banana peel against Miyabiyama (3-3), charging out of the crouch only to be smacked forward onto all fours by the former ozeki.

Diminutive komusubi Ama (2-4) won a lengthy bout against Kasugao (3-3), grinding out the No. 3 maegashira with a textbook "yorikiri" frontal takeout maneuver.

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