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Sunday, Nov. 23, 2008

Hakuho, Ama win again to send basho to wire

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Yokozuna Hakuho and fellow Mongolian Ama both posted convincing wins to send the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament down to the wire on Saturday.

News photo
Last man standing: Ama stands over Kotomitsuki after beating the ozeki at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday to maintain a share of the lead with yokozuna Hakuho going into the final day. KYODO PHOTO

Hakuho bashed up ozeki Chiyotaikai and promotion-chasing sekiwake Ama outclassed Kotomitsuki to leave both with 12-2 marks and ensure an intriguing climax to the 15-day meet wrapping up at Fukuoka Kokusai Center on Sunday. Rank-and-filer Yoshikaze is one win back.

Hakuho, competing as the lone yokozuna here in the absence of injured Asashoryu, faces Kotomitsuki on Sunday while Ama meets Estonian man-mountain Baruto.

Victory for both Mongolians would see them face off in a championship playoff.

Hakuho, who is seeking a third consecutive title and eighth overall, was never troubled in the day's final bout against an indifferent Chiyotaikai (8-6), who looked like he had already given up before Hakuho sent him sprawling to the sandy surface with a beltless armthrow.

Moments earlier, Ama allowed Kotomitsuki (9-5) to come back from a meaty charge but the Mongolian oozed class as he set himself up to efficiently take down the ozeki with a textbook underarm throw.

Ama, who has yet to win a championship, is virtually assured of promotion to ozeki as he has now exceeded 33 wins in three consecutive tournaments — a rough guideline to gain promotion to sumo's second-highest rank.

Surprise package Yoshikaze (11-3), a No. 12 maegashira, also heads into the final day still in contention after steamrolling 11th-ranked Koryu.

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