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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Asashoryu, Hakuho keep up pace

OSAKA (Kyodo) Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu and Hakuho stayed on course with convincing wins to remain undefeated in a three-way tie for the lead on the fourth day of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday.

News photo
Force out: Yamamotoyama pushes Toyozakura out of the ring at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka on Wednesday for a share of the lead at 4-0. KYODO PHOTO

Asashoryu shares the early lead at 4-0 with Hakuho and rank-and-filer Yamamotoyama, who at 248 kg is the heaviest active sumo wrestler.

The 28-year-old Asashoryu gave rank-and-filer Tochiozan (2-2)a cheeky slap to the face before quickly moving inside for his favored right-side leaning grip and depositing the No. 2 maegashira onto the dohyo surface at Osaka Municipal Gymnasium.

Asashoryu is aiming for his 24th Emperor's Cup — an achievement that would place him in a tie for third on the all-time list with yokozuna great Kitanoumi.

In the day's final bout, Hakuho was the picture of composure as he deflected an ineffective attack by Kotoshogiku (1-3)before leaning in for a right-side grip and toppling the No. 2 maegashira.

Asashoryu beat Hakuho in a playoff on the final day of the New Year meet in January and the latter is itching for revenge in his bid for a 10th career title.

Veteran ozeki Kaio (3-1) gave Estonian sekiwake Baruto (2-2) a sumo clinic, deploying a well-worked armlock throw to toss his bigger opponent to the sandy surface for his third win in a row. Baruto suffered his second straight defeat.

Chiyotaikai (1-3), meanwhile, fell into the clutches of local upstart Goeido (2-2), who grabbed a hold of one of the ozeki's thrusting arms before heaving him over the edge.

Bulgarian Kotooshu was the second ozeki to bite the dust after an ill-advised attempt to grapple head-to-head with Mongolian komusubi Kyokutenho, who muscled his opponent over the edge to leave both men at 2-2.

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