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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hakuho closes in on 11th Emperor's Cup

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho beat compatriot Harumafuji on Saturday to zero in on his 11th Emperor's Cup on the penultimate day of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

News photo
In contention: Kotooshu beats Asashoryu Saturday to stay one win behind Hakuho at the Nagoya Basho. KYODO PHOTO

Hakuho got an early fright before seeing off the ozeki while Bulgarian Kotooshu, the only other wrestler in title contention, kept alive his championship hopes with a shock win over yokozuna Asashoryu in the day's final bout at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.

Hakuho improved to 13-1 and can seal victory with a win over Asashoryu on Sunday. Kotooshu must beat Harumafuji and hope Hakuho loses to force a playoff against the yokozuna.

Seeking revenge after a championship playoff defeat at the summer basho, Hakuho came off second best as Harumafuji (9-5) steamed in at the charge, but the yokozuna quickly took control, getting both arms around his opponent to march him out from behind.

Kotooshu (12-2) then ensured the title race went down to the final day with a hard-earned forceout win over Asashoryu, who dropped to 10-4.

In other top bouts, ozeki Kotomitsuki rebounded from back-to-back defeats to spin around Kakuryu (5-9) and force the Mongolian sekiwake out for an 11th win.

Kaio sent out fellow ozeki Chiyotaikai to claim an eighth win. Chiyotaikai needs to beat Kakuryu on Sunday to avoid a 7-8 losing mark.

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