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Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009

Hakuho, Asashoryu brush challengers aside

Kyodo News

Hakuho underlined his championship credentials by toppling Miyabiyama, and Asashoryu also bared his teeth as both yokozuna made it two wins out of two at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday.

News photo
Get a grip: Baruto forces Harumafuji out of the ring at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday. KYODO PHOTO

Looking to join former yokozuna Futabayama with a 12th Emperor's Cup, Hakuho showed why he has lost only three bouts in regulation this year with an assured performance at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan.

The 24-year-old shrugged off Miyabiyama's (0-2) attack and launched a devastating assault that sent the No. 1 maegashira tumbling backward into the front row of ringside cushions.

Hakuho is gunning for back-to-back titles here after coming off a stellar 14-1 showing that clinched the Nagoya title in July.

Asashoryu, whose tournament preparations have been hampered by a knee injury, was equally imperious in his meeting with Tochinoshin (0-2) in the day's finale and wasted no time in battering the Georgian into submission.

Elsewhere in the top ranks, Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu (2-0), runnerup behind Hakuho in Nagoya with a 13-2 record, dug in deep to see off Kyokutenho (1-1), getting both hands on the back of the second-ranked Mongolian's belt and driving him over the straw ridge.

Chiyotaikai throttled winless No. 2 maegashira Shotenro and yanked him down to open his autumn account following an opening-day defeat to Kyokutenho.

Mongolian ozeki Harumafuji, out to prove he has what it takes to join compatriots Hakuho and Asashoryu at sumo's ultimate rank, suffered an upset defeat to Estonian komusubi Baruto and was joined on the casualty list by veteran ozeki Kaio.

Baruto (1-1) put Sunday's defeat to Asashoryu behind him as he got stuck into Harumafuji with two meaty shoves that the ozeki could find no answer to.

"I knew I had to regroup and get back to my brand of sumo," said Baruto. "I think I wrestled well today and hopefully there will be more of the same tomorrow."

Harumafuji, formerly known as Ama, entered the Nagoya meet gunning for promotion to yokozuna but two early losses dented his hopes wound up with a mediocre 9-6 mark.

Kaio, (1-1), grappling in a record-tying 97th tournament in sumo's premier league, could find no way back from the edge of the ring against sekiwake Kotoshogiku (2-0) and got muscled out to a shock defeat.

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