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Monday, Sept. 22, 2008

Asashoryu flops again as Hakuho cruises on

Kyodo News

Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho stayed on course to make it back-to-back titles with a routine win over Aminishiki, but there was more woe for troubled Asashoryu as he slumped to a third defeat at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday.

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Locked and loaded: Arsenal's Theo Walcott, left, controls the ball against Bolton's Kevin Nolan during their match at Reebok Stadium in Bolton, England, on Saturday. Arsenal won 3-1. AP PHOTO

Hakuho read Aminishiki (4-4) like a book in the day's penultimate bout at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan, quickly knocking the fourth-ranked maegashira off balance and twisting him down at the ring's edge to preserve his share of the lead.

Mongolian Ama also kept his share of the lead at 7-1 by beating ozeki Kotomitsuki, who dropped to 6-2, as did rank-and-filer Goeido.

Hakuho won the Nagoya tourney in July with a flawless 15-0 record and is gunning for his eighth overall title here.

In the day's finale, Asashoryu thought he had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, but a third loss is sure to raise more media speculation over whether the 22-time Emperor's Cup winner will retire.

Toyonoshima (4-4) was awarded the win after a ringside judge spotted Asashoryu's heel touching the outside of the ring as he retreated in the face of a fierce offensive from the sekiwake.

Ama had too much fire for Kotomitsuki at the "tachi-ai" charge, and deservedly claimed his third ozeki scalp of the tournament.

The wiry Mongolian smothered Kotomitsuki with a series of slaps and yanked him down by the back of the neck to knock the ozeki out of a share of the lead.

Goeido regrouped after his first loss of the meet on Saturday, the fifth-ranked maegashira weathering a two-handed attack from Hokutoriki and pulling him down to a third defeat.

Kotomitsuki was the only ozeki to taste defeat as Kaio, Chiyotaikai and Bulgarian Kotooshu all won handsomely.

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