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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

SPRING GRAND SUMO TOURNAMENT

Hakuho beats Tochiazuma to take basho lead

OSAKA (Kyodo) Mongolian ozeki Hakuho took the sole possession of the lead Monday with a decisive win over fellow ozeki Tochiazuma at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

Mongolian grand champion Asashoryu, meanwhile, scalped another victim in the form of sekiwake Kotoshogiku, staying one off the pace in pack of six wrestlers chasing Hakuho as the final week of action heats up at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.

Hakuho was quicker out of the crouch, getting a right-handed underhand grip on Tochiazuma's mawashi before muscling him out to improve to 8-1.

Tochiazuma lost his second straight for a 7-2 mark and is still a win away from easing his relegation worries.

Asashoryu lost his first two bouts at the 15-day meet but his sumo has improved dramatically since and he is a clear threat to bring home his fifth title in a row and 21st career Emperor's Cup.

Rank-and-filers Tochiozan, Kokkai, Homasho and sekiwake Kotomitsuki also have 7-2 records in tie with the yokozuna.

Bulgarian Kotooshu (6-3) dispatched of fellow ozeki Kaio with relative ease after his rival tried an ill-advised arm-lock throw and was knocked over the edge to a fifth defeat.

Chiyotaikai backpedaled over the ridge against top-ranked maegashira Toyonoshima, putting up little resistance, and both wrestlers were left at 5-4 marks.

Sekiwake Kotomitsuki bounced back from a defeat a day earlier, pushing out Mongolian Kyokutenho, who fell to a losing record of eight defeats.

In an all-Mongolian battle, Ama (4-5) took the bait, driving Asasekiryu (2-7) to the edge with a thrusting attack, only to be flipped over at the last second by his opponent.

Crowd favorite Takamisakari (5-4) could do nothing to derail Homasho, who got a hold of his opponent's left mawashi and lifted him quickly over the raised-ring.

Tochiozan won his fourth straight, tossing down Tamanoshima (6-3) to continue his impressive performance in his debut in the top flight. Georgian wrestler Kokkai toppled Tamakasuga (1-8) to stay one off the pace.

Third-ranked maegashira and former ozeki Miyabiyama pulled out of the tournament on Sunday with a right-thigh injury.



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