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Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009

Asashoryu closes in on another Emperor's Cup

Kyodo News

Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu put on another sumo clinic to close in on his 24th Emperor's Cup with a victory over Kotooshu at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday.

Asashoryu improved his record to 13-0 and he can clinch the title on Saturday if he wins against Kotomitsuki and nearest challenger Hakuho (12-1) fails to beat Kotooshu.

The bruiser from Ulan Bator was never troubled against Kotooshu (8-5) and stunned the Bulgarian ozeki with some tasty thrusts and slaps before tipping him to the clay surface with a beltless arm throw at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

In stark contrast, Nagoya champion Hakuho had to dodge a couple of early bullets in the day's finale as ozeki Kotomitsuki (9-4) came out with all guns blazing.

But the yokozuna stood firm and sent Kotomitsuki packing with a nicely worked underarm throw to remain in the hunt for his 12th title.

Asashoryu, who turns 29 on Sunday, has not won a tournament since beating Hakuho in a playoff in the New Year meet and victory here would provide him with the perfect birthday present.

Estonian komusubi Baruto (11-2) kept alive his slim hopes of the title as he escaped from Tokitenku's (7-6) clutches and got both hands on the fourth maegashira to squash him to the dirt.

In other bouts, aging ozeki Kaio (7-6) suffered a surprise defeat as he was bundled out by Mongolian No. 3 maegashira Kakuryu, who improved to 9-4.

But fellow ozeki Harumafuji (8-5) encountered no such problems in the next bout against Toyonoshima (6-7) as he spun the No. 4 maegashira around and floored him to secure a winning record.

Kisenosato (6-7) survived another day by shoving out fifth-ranked maegashira Takekaze (8-5) but the sekiwake still needs to win his last two bouts to avoid a majority of losses.

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