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Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2008

Asashoryu plunges to new depths with loss

Kyodo News

Asashoryu's woeful campaign at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament plunged new depths Monday as the once-dominant Mongolian yokozuna was sentenced to a fourth defeat by sekiwake and compatriot Ama.

Ama's victory kept him in the thick of the title race with another Mongolian, Nagoya champion Hakuho, and rank-and-filer Goeido at 8-1 heading toward the final stretch of the 15-day basho.

Asashoryu's (5-4) performance in the day's penultimate bout was nothing short of pitiful, and it was Ama that looked more like the yokozuna as he quickly spun Asashoryu around and marched him over the straw ridge from behind.

Asashoryu's career has taken a dive this last year and he has not claimed a title since beating rival yokozuna Hakuho on the final day of the spring meet in March.

Conversely, Hakuho looked every bit the yokozuna that romped to victory in Nagoya in July with a spotless 15-0 record as he disposed of sekiwake Toyonoshima (4-5) with a twist-down throw to stay on track for his eighth career title.

In an earlier bout, Goeido looked to be heading for his second defeat after Futeno (6-3) got the upper hand following an explosive "tachi-ai." But the fifth-ranked maegashira turned the tables at the edge of the ring and countered to floor his 10th-ranked opponent with a last-ditch neck throw.

"I think my forward motion at the charge is better than it was in the last tournament. Somehow I managed to come through with a win today," said Goeido, adding he will "go for broke" in his appointment with Asashoryu on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, Chiyotaikai (6-3) outfoxed Miyabiyama but there were murmurs of disapproval from the crowd after he dodged Miyabiyama (3-6) at the charge before barging the former ozeki over the bales.

There were no such underhand tactics from Chiyotaikai's fellow ozeki Kaio (6-3), however, as the Tomozuna stable veteran put his heart and soul into wrenching out fourth-ranked maegashira Tochinonada (2-7).

Kotooshu (5-4) followed suit in the next bout, blasting out fourth-ranked Aminishiki (4-5) to make it three wins in a row.

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