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Sunday, March 29, 2009
Hakuho secures 10th Emperor's Cup title
OSAKA (AP) Undefeated yokozuna Hakuho won his 10th career title without ever having to lift a pinkie on the 14th day of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday.
The title was secured when Mongolian yokozuna rival Asashoryu fell to a third defeat at the hands of Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu in the penultimate bout at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.
Hakuho left Asashoryu in his wake, improving to an insurmountable 14-0 record after beating ozeki Kaio and now will aim to finish the 15-day meet with a perfect record on Sunday.
It was a sweet but anticlimactic victory after Hakuho lost to Asashoryu in a playoff championship on the final day of the New Year meet in January.
"I was aiming for the 10th career title, so I am really happy," said the 24-year-old Hakuho. "I really had to work hard for this and trained a lot for this meet. I feel this is a different victory for me because I went out to get it."
Asashoryu, who was denied a 24th career title, appeared to have lost his motivation with the knowledge that his rival could claim the title outright by beating battle-worn ozeki Kaio in the final.
Normally fierce off the charge, Asashoryu let Kotooshu in quickly for a firm belt grip and the Bulgarian ozeki proceeded to muscle the yokozuna over the edge in a matter of seconds. Kotooshu improved his slate to 9-5.
The final bout was no contest as Hakuho shot Kaio with a barrage of slaps before wrestling him over the edge in textbook fashion. Kaio slipped to 8-6.
In other bouts, Estonian Baruto (7-7) grappled with Kisenosato (5-9) in an all-sekiwake battle before tossing his opponent into the ringside seats to move one away from a majority of wins.
Mongolian Harumafuji bulldozed out fellow ozeki Chiyotaikai to improve to 9-5, bettering his 8-7 mark in his debut at sumo's second-highest rank in January. Chiyotaikai fell to an unflattering 2-12.
Ozeki Kotomitsuki, who escaped relegation with a win the previous day, also bit the dust when he was toppled over the edge by rank-and-filer Takekaze, leaving both men at 8-6.