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Sunday, Sept. 21, 2008

Hakuho defeats Baruto, regains share of lead

Kyodo News

Hakuho outlasted Estonian titan Baruto in an epic battle to reclaim a share of the lead, while Asashoryu bounced back from his latest setback to stay on the heels of his fellow Mongolian yokozuna at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday.

News photo
No longer undefeated: Ozeki Kotomitsuki forces out Goeido to hand the No. 5 maegashira his first loss of the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo. Goeido was the last unbeaten wrestler in the tourney. KYODO PHOTO

Hakuho had to dig deep into his energy reserves in the day's final bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan but displayed great tenacity to bump out komusubi Baruto (2-5) and score his sixth win of the tournament.

Hakuho joined ozeki Kotomitsuki, fifth-ranked maegashira Goeido and sekiwake Ama in a four-way tie for the lead with 6-1 records heading into the second half of the 15-day basho.

Goeido put up a brave fight but saw his unbeaten run come to an end after being forced out by Kotomitsuki.

Asashoryu's second loss on Friday raised retirement speculation in the local tabloids, but the yokozuna was all business in the day's penultimate matchup, dispatching fourth-ranked maegashira Tochinonada (2-5) with a series of meaty frontal thrusts.

Asashoryu, who is nursing a left-elbow injury, is seeking his 23rd Emperor's Cup here and first title since winning the spring basho in March with a defeat of Hakuho on the final day.

Elsewhere, Kotooshu, who has looked a pale shadow of the wrestler that flirted with promotion to yokozuna earlier this year, managed to grind out a victory over sekiwake Toyonoshima, leaving both wrestlers with 3-4 records.

Kaio (4-3) dodged a bullet to yank down top-ranked Miyabiyama (3-4) but Chiyotaikai (4-3) fell victim to giant-killing maegashira Aminishiki (4-3), who followed up Friday's upset of Asashoryu by barging out the ozeki for another no-nonsense win.

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