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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Asa beats Tokitenku, retains share of lead

OSAKA (Kyodo) Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu yanked down compatriot Tokitenku to retain his share of the lead on the sixth day of action at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday.

Asashoryu, seeking his 22nd Emperor's Cup here, extended his unbeaten record to 6-0, while grand champion rival Hakuho lurks one win behind after blasting out winless Toyonoshima at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.

In the day's finale, Asashoryu locked up Tokitenku (2-4) at the charge and his third-ranked opponent pretty much did the rest, a slip on the sandy surface handing the yokozuna victory on a plate.

Asashoryu shares the lead with popular rank-and-filer Homasho, Tochiozan and Hokutoriki, while Hakuho is among a chasing pack of five wrestlers that also features ozeki Chiyotaikai and sumo funnyman Takamisakari.

Asashoryu is aiming for his first championship win in four meets and revenge over Hakuho, who ruined his comeback from a two-tournament ban with victory on the final day of the New Year meet in January.

Hakuho stayed in the hunt to become only the sixth wrestler since the establishment of the six-tournament system in 1958 to win four consecutive titles with an easy win.

Toyonoshima looked like he had surrendered even before the charge and Hakuho wasted no time in bulldozing the third-ranked grappler over the straw bales with maximum efficiency.

In other key bouts, Chiyotaikai further eased his relegation fears with a fifth win and emerged the only ozeki with any credit after Kaio, Kotooshu and Kotomitsuki all lost.

Chiyotaikai put Asasekiryu (4-2) on the back foot with a series of slaps and completed a textbook win by hauling the top-ranked maegashira down by the back of the neck.



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