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Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008

Hakuho discards Kaio, moves closer to glory

Kyodo News

Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho inched even closer to his eighth career Emperor's Cup on Friday, dispatching veteran ozeki Kaio in convincing fashion to earn his 12th win at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament.

News photo
Foot fault: Toyonoshima puts his foot outside the ring just before sending ozeki Kotomitsuki flying into the crowd at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan in the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday. KYODO PHOTO

In the day's final at Ryogoku Kokugikan, the two wrestlers jostled for hand positions, but it was Hakuho who got his right hand inside on Kaio's "mawashi" belt before heaving the ozeki over the edge to a fifth defeat.

Hakuho is the odds-on favorite to win back-to-back titles after claiming the Nagoya title in July with a perfect 15-0 record. Rival yokozuna Asashoryu has pulled out of his second straight meet with an injured elbow and has recently shown a downward turn in form.

In other key bouts, ozeki Kotomitsuki escaped sudden death when he shoved Toyonoshima (5-8) over, but went flying into the ringside seats himself as his opponent dodged to the side at the last second.

Fortunately, Toyonoshima's foot had already broken the barrier, allowing Kotomitsuki to stay one behind the yokozuna with two days remaining at the 15-day meet.

Mongolian sekiwake Ama, meanwhile, never lost his composure in a run-in with hard-to-handle Kotoshogiku (5-8), wrapping both hands around his opponent before muscling the top-ranked maegashira over the edge to stay in the title race.

Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu initially looked out of sorts when he stood up bone-straight after the faceoff against Goeido, but finished off the No. 5 maegashira in a relentless attack of thrusts to pick up his seventh win.

Goeido dropped out of contention with his fourth defeat.

Ozeki Chiyotaikai unleashed his trademark thrusting attack against Kakuryu (6-7) but relied on a smack-down technique when the No. 5 maegashira refused to budge to notch a majority of wins.

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