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Friday, May 22, 2009

Hakuho unstoppable; Harumafuji keeps pace

Kyodo News

Yokozuna Hakuho sent ozeki Kaio packing with conviction Thursday to maintain a flawless record with three days remaining at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament.

In the hunt for back-to-back titles, Hakuho extended his winning streak in regulation to 32 bouts and retained his share of the lead with ozeki Harumafuji, who disposed of sekiwake Baruto in convincing fashion to remain in the title race.

Fellow yokozuna Asashoryu, meanwhile, escaped defeat with some quick flexes against ozeki Kotomitsuki, staying one behind the co-leaders at 11-1 to keep his chances alive in a bid for his career 24th Emperor's Cup and first title in two meets.

At 10-2, rank-and-filer Kisenosato is the only other wrestler with a mathematical shot of claiming the tournament spoils.

Taking a turbo jump at the face-off, Hakuho swiftly moved in for a right leaning grip and devoured the 36-year-old Kaio in a full-throttle frontal takeout at Rygokoku Kokugikan. Kaio slipped to 8-4.

Harumafuji never allowed Baruto a chance to get a belt grip, grabbing the Estonian sekiwake by the throat after the face-off before quickly moving around the side to shove his opponent out from behind. Baruto slipped to an unflattering 3-9 mark.

Asashoryu surrendered a belt grip to Kotomitsuki in the day's final bout and the ozeki appeared to have victory in his hands as he heaved the yokozuna to the edge at full steam.

But Asashoryu quickly countered to send his opponent over to a fifth defeat with a perfectly timed underarm throw.

Chiyotaikai moved to the brink of demotion after he was stopped dead in his tracks by Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu, who smothered him with his larger frame to notch an eighth win.

Chiyotaikai, who is suffering from a series of injuries and ailments, is attempting to save his ozeki status for a record 13th time but now must win his last three bouts at the 15-day meet. A majority of losses here could push him into retirement.



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