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Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2008

Asashoryu rebounds with win

Kyodo News

Asashoryu hit back with a vengeance to get back on the winning trail Tuesday, while yokozuna rival Hakuho maintained his unbeaten start with a third win in a row at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

News photo
Yokozuna Asashoryu forces out No. 1 maegashira Tokitenku to avoid back-to-back losses in the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan on Tuesday. KYODO PHOTO

Asashoryu made mincemeat of Tokitenku to sit one win behind Hakuho, who was given a fright before seeing off Toyonoshima to retain his share of the early lead with Aminishiki, Futeno and Kyokutenho.

A wounded animal can be a dangerous beast and so it proved in the day's penultimate matchup as winless Tokitenku bore the full brunt of Asashoryu's backlash at Ryogoku Kokugikan following the grand champion's defeat to giant-killing maegashira Kisenosato.

Asashoryu came storming out of his crouch like a raging bull and wasted not time in wrapping Tokitenku up at the ring's edge before closing with a powerful shove into the ringside cushions.

Hakuho posted a majority of wins in all six basho last year, but he will invariably have to do better than his sub-par 12-3 mark when he took the Kyushu title in November now that Asashoryu is back in the picture.

Hakuho was given a run for his money by Toyonoshima (1-2), but patience proved to be the key as the reigning Emperor's Cup holder prevailed with an underarm throw.

Elsewhere, future prospect Goeido produced the first major upset of the day when he got both hands around ozeki Kotomitsuki (2-1) and bellied him over the straw bales to nail his first victory of the 15-day meet.

"It was a tough match and the key was staying patient," said Goeido. "This is my first win against an ozeki and that has done a lot for my confidence."

On a day of contrasting fortunes for ozeki, Chiyotaikai's disastrous start to the tournament showed no signs of abating, the Kokonoe stable giant slumping to a third defeat after being taken out by Dejima in the next bout.

Chiyotaikai took a devastating crunch to the head at the charge and could find no reply as Dejima (1-2) dragged him down to the clay.

However, Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu (2-1) had to do little more than flex his muscles to twist around Ama (1-2) and march the Mongolian sekiwake out from behind.

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