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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Unbeaten Asashoryu shares lead with two

OSAKA (Kyodo) Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu manhandled komusubi Takekaze to remain in a share of the lead with an unblemished record on the seventh day of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday.

Asashoryu, who is in the hunt for his 22nd Emperor's Cup here, improved to 7-0 to sit in a tie for the lead with rank-and-filers Homasho and Tochiozan, while rival yokozuna Hakuho dodged a bullet against komusubi Kisenosato to stay one off the pace.

Asashoryu exchanged shoves with Takekaze at the ring's center and waited until the right moment before slapping his opponent forward to the dohyo surface at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium. Takekaze slipped to 1-6.

Hakuho, however, was made to work hard against upstart Kisenosato, who went on a relentless, thrusting attack before Hakuho deployed a well-timed, pulling underarm throw to improve to 6-1. Kisenosato dropped to 3-4.

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

Hakuho sits one behind the leaders along with ozeki Chiyotaikai, Hokutoriki and sumo's class clown, Takamisakari.

By and large, sumo's second-highest rank of ozeki has been an utter disappointment thus far, with demotion-threatened Chiyotaikai the only one holding his own.

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