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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Hakuho retains share of lead

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Mongolian grand champion Hakuho churned out another convincing win with a demolition of Wakanosato, while yokozuna Asashoryu disposed of Dejima to stay one off the pace at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Tuesday.

In the day's penultimate bout at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, Hakuho was never in trouble as he calmly put his opponent in an armlock after a short exchange following the face-off and tugged the winless No. 2 maegashira to the dirt to keep a perfect 3-0 record.

The 22-year-old from Ulan Bator earned promotion to sumo's summit after winning back-to-back tournaments in March and May with 13-2 and 15-0 records, respectively. He is aiming to become only the eighth wrestler to lift the Emperor's Cup in his yokozuna debut.

Asashoryu, meanwhile, blasted Dejima with a series of hard shoves before sending the former ozeki flying into the ringside seats to improve to a 2-1 mark.

The previous day, Asashoryu snapped a five-match losing streak that began on the 12th day of the May tourney, his longest skid since his professional debut in 1999.

Asashoryu, who wrestled as the lone yokozuna the previous 21 tournaments, was dealt a setback in his pursuit of a 21st Emperor's Cup when he was upset by komusubi Aminishiki on Sunday.

In other key bouts, ringside judges called for a rematch when Chiyotaikai and Russian No. 3 maegashira Roho went over the edge at virtually the same time, but the ozeki was sent sprawling to the dohyo surface in the second match to suffer a first defeat.

Roho, who is one of the four undefeated in a share of the lead with Hakuho, will face off against Asashoryu on Wednesday.



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