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Friday, March 14, 2008

Hakuho rebounds; Asa leads

OSAKA (Kyodo) Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho bounced back from the previous day's defeat Thursday while rival yokozuna Asashoryu scalped another victim to stay undefeated on the fifth day of action at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

News photo
Eighth-ranked maegashira Goeido defeats Takamisakari to hand the fellow-maegashira his first loss of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Thursday at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium. KYODO PHOTO

Hakuho remained in hot pursuit one behind the leading pack of five wrestlers after a dismissal of Miyabiyama in the day's finale at Osaka Municipal Gymnasium. Asashoryu, who beat Toyonoshima in the penultimate bout, improved to 5-0.

After an embarrassing defeat a day earlier, Hakuho was cautious out of the blocks and deployed a pulling overarm technique against winless Miyabiyama to improve to 4-1.

Asashoryu, meanwhile, quickly wrapped up winless Toyonoshima, packing out the No. 3 maegashira from behind in a nonstop assault.

On Wednesday, you could almost hear Asashoryu snicker as his rival tumbled forward on his knees when Aminishiki successfully baited Hakuho with a quick sidestep maneuver.

One statistic, in particular, stands out: Hakuho has never relinquished the lead to Asashoryu in the six tournaments in which he has won the championship title.

Asashoryu is aiming for his 22nd Emperor's Cup title and first in four meets. Hakuho has a chance to become only the sixth wrestler since the establishment of the six-tournament system in 1958 to win four consecutive titles.

Asashoryu is poised for revenge after Hakuho spoiled his comeback from a two-tournament ban with a victory on the final day of the New Year meet in January.

Chiyotaikai, in danger of relegation for a record-tying 11th time, ran over winless Takekaze like a freight train to move four wins away from posting a majority of victories.

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