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Friday, Sept. 26, 2008

Hakuho closes in on eighth Emperor's Cup

Kyodo News

Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho put himself within spitting distance of his eighth career Emperor's Cup on Thursday, disposing of ozeki Chiyotaikai in dramatic fashion for an 11th win at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament.

In the day's final match at Ryogoku Kokugikan, Chiyotaikai (7-5) grabbed Hakuho by the throat and did his best to rush him over the straw bales, only for the yokozuna to deploy a leaping underarm throw to send his opponent toppling onto his back.

Hakuho maintained his lead over ozeki Kotomitsuki and Mongolian sekiwake Ama, who trail with 10-2 records with three days remaining in the 15-day Tokyo meet.

The lone yokozuna after Asashoryu pulled out of his second straight meet citing an injury to his left elbow, Hakuho is gunning for back-to-back titles after winning the Nagoya meet with a perfect 15-0 record.

Kotomitsuki remained hot on the yokozuna's heels with a demolition of Toyohibiki (7-5) in the penultimate bout, pulling the No. 6 maegashira to the dirt surface with a shoulder technique.

Ama, meanwhile, stayed in contention, deflecting the charge of Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu (6-6) after the faceoff and shoving his opponent out in a matter of seconds.

Goeido, a No. 5 maegashira, became the victim of an unlucky false start and was sent down for a face full of dirt in the rematch against veteran ozeki Kaio (8-4) to suffer a third defeat and see his slim title hopes all but shattered.

In the first match, Goeido appeared to have Kaio on the ropes when he got inside for a firm belt grip but the referee nullified the match for the quick start.

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