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Monday, March 30, 2009

Hakuho finishes perfect in Osaka

OSAKA (Kyodo) With the Emperor's Cup title already in the bag, Hakuho overpowered fellow Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu Sunday to finish his campaign with a perfect 15-0 record at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

Hakuho, who secured his career 10th victory a day earlier, claimed the title with an undefeated record for the third time.

"I feel great. I was really down on myself after losing at the New Year meet but the fans really supported me and I was able to get victory this time," Hakuho said.

Hakuho took the tournament hardware for the first time in two meets after losing in a championship playoff to Asashoryu at the New Year meet in January.

"It was great to get my 10th title with an undefeated record. I was just focused on my sumo throughout. I will keep fighting like a grand champion as I did in this meet."

In the all-yokozuna clash, Hakuho was never in trouble, moving in quickly with firm steps for his favored right leaning grip before powering Asashoryu over the edge to a fourth defeat.

Hakuho, who turned 24 on March 11, reached the mark of 10 titles on the third fastest pace following yokozuna Taiho and Takanohana.

Asashoryu, who was aiming for his 24th career title and second in a row, was in a hot title race with Hakuho until suffering his first defeat to ozeki Harumafuji on the 10th day, and continued to lose his sharpness after that.

Kotomitsuki (8-7), who escaped demotion at the Osaka meet by notching a majority of wins, fell to his second straight loss at the hands of Baruto.

Baruto posted a majority of wins to ensure he retains his sekiwake rank at the summer meet in May.

Mongolian Harumafuji sidestepped after the faceoff against fellow ozeki Kaio (8-7) and drove his opponent out from the rear to end on 10-5.

Bulgarian Kotooshu, whose victory over Asashoryu on Saturday secured the title for Hakuho, stopped a weak effort from fellow ozeki Chiyotaikai and ushered his opponent out to finish on 10-5. Chiyotaikai fell to a pitiful 2-13 mark.

Homasho took his third Fighting Spirit Prize with an 11-4 mark, while Mongolian Kakuryu received the Technique Prize for the second time after ending at 10-5.



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