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Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009

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Just overpowered: Ozeki Kotooshu unleashes a throw to No. 3 maegashira Bushuyama on Tuesday at Fukuoka Kokusai Center. KYODO PHOTO

Asa remains on track for 25th title

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) It wasn't sexy but yokozuna Asashoryu stayed on course in his bid for consecutive titles with a bread-and-butter win over Takekaze on the third day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Tuesday.

The feisty yokozuna from Ulan Bator was pulled slightly off-balance by Takekaze after the faceoff and almost went tumbling before recovering quickly to charge the winless No. 1 maegashira over the edge at the Fukuoka Kokusai Center.

Rival yokozuna Hakuho also remained perfect with a 3-0 record by grinding out Aminishiki in the day's penultimate bout. The two Mongolian yokozuna feature among a group of five wrestlers sharing the lead as the 15-day meet heats up.

Asashoryu is seeking his 25th career title after beating Hakuho in a playoff on the final day of the autumn meet. Hakuho can surpass Asashoryu's record of 84 wins in a year with 14 victories here.

Hakuho rested his chin on Aminishiki's shoulder and waited for his opponent to make the first move, using his superior leverage to usher the No. 1 maegashira over the straw bales to a third defeat.

Meanwhile, it was a day of contrasting fortunes for sumo's second-highest rank of ozeki.

Kotomitsuki (2-1) paid for his overzealousness when he tried to bulldoze Goeido (1-2) over the edge without having a firm grip on the komusubi, who twisted the ozeki down with an underarm throw at the last second.

Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu had no problem disposing of Bushuyama (1-2), knocking the No. 3 maegashira around with his slaps before deploying a powerful beltless arm throw to stay undefeated.

Relegation-threatened Chiyotaikai (2-1) was all bark as his trademark thrusting attack did little damage to Kisenosato (2-1), who countered with his own frontal shove out of the ozeki.

In another key matchup, hometown favorite Kaio (2-1) flipped Estonian giant Baruto (1-2) onto the dirt with an armlock throw immediately after the faceoff. It was Kaio's 800th career victory in the elite makuuchi division for third on the all-time list.

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