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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Yokozuna juggernaut rolls on at spring meet

OSAKA (Kyodo) Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho and Asashoryu scalped their sixth victims to stay perfect in a share of the lead at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday.

News photo
On the brink: Tochiozan pushes Harumafuji to the limit at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday. KYODO PHOTO

Both men look unstoppable thus far at the 15-day meet and appear on course for another mouthwatering showdown after Asashoryu beat Hakuho in a playoff to win the New Year meet in January.

Surprisingly, veteran ozeki Kaio sits at 5-1 along with rank-and-filers Yamamotoyama and Asasekiryu in pursuit of the leaders.

In the day's finale, Hakuho shot down Mongolian countryman Kyokutenho with ease, getting both hands around for a firm grip before muscling the komusubi out in convincing fashion at Osaka Municipal Gymnasium.

Meanwhile, Asashoryu got a hold of Kotoshogiku's belt only for the No. 2 maegashira to break loose once, but the yokozuna was too savvy as he waited for just the right moment to swat his opponent down.

Asashoryu is aiming for his 24th Emperor's Cup title while rival yokozuna Hakuho is in the hunt for a 10th career title.

In another key bout, ozeki Harumafuji got hemmed up against Tochiozan immediately after the faceoff and was abruptly shown the exit to slip to a second defeat. Tochiozan, who lost his two previous bouts to the yokozuna pair, improved to an even slate of 3-3.

Injury-plagued Kaio got both hands wrapped around the belt of Hokutoriki before heaving out the winless No. 1 maegashira.

Kotomitsuki (4-2), who is in danger of demotion after pulling out of the New Year meet, toppled Tokitenku (2-4) to move a step closer to a majority of wins.

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