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Monday, March 22, 2010

Baruto keeps bid for promotion on track

OSAKA (Kyodo) Ozeki wannabe Baruto showed no signs of cracking and rolled to his eighth win after overpowering Kyokutenho at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday.

Lone yokozuna Hakuho and surprise package Tokitenku all won handsomely to stay tied with Baruto at 8-0, but Harumafuji was condemned to his first defeat of the 15-day meet on a day of upsets for ozeki wrestlers.

Baruto rode his luck to preserve his unbeaten record in Saturday's bout against Kakuryu but he was never in any danger against his latest Mongolian opponent at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.

The Estonian drew Kyokutenho (1-7) in at the charge, got his right hand clamped onto the second-ranked maegashira's belt and calmly marched him out of the dohyo.

"From the first day I have been fired up and I am just trying to focus on each bout as it comes," said Baruto, who needs to win at least five more bouts to be considered for promotion to ozeki for the summer basho in May.

Hakuho didn't enjoy quite such a smooth ride in the last bout of the day, but the Mongolian yokozuna was equally impressive in weathering Tamawashi's (3-5) attack and heaving the fourth-ranked grappler out.

In sharp contrast, Harumafuji was beaten with alarming ease and now sits alone at 7-1 after being railroaded by Kotoshogiku (6-2).

Komusubi Kisenosato (3-5) snapped Kaio's three-bout winning streak by dipping into his energy reserves to bump out the veteran ozeki to a third loss, and Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu then bit the dust to fall two wins behind the leaders with defeat to fourth-ranked Tosayutaka (1-7).

"I have not wrestled offensively enough so far here but I was able to get forward and attack today," said Kisenosato.

Aminishiki (4-4) completed a miserable day for ozeki, the komusubi grabbing Kotomitsuki by the thigh and working him over the bales and out to a third defeat.

Toyonoshima, meanwhile, completed a winning double for sumo's third rank of sekiwake when he bundled out top-ranked Kakuryu (2-6) to even his mark at 4-4.

Enjoying his best ever start to a tournament, Tokitenku failed to pull off an inside-ankle-kick pull-down at the charge but kept seventh-ranked Kakizoe (5-3) at bay with a series of slaps before pulling him down to secure a majority of wins.

"I am pleased but it is too early for title talk," said Tokitenku. "It was not a good 'tachi-ai' today but I settled down after that. Every day I am focused on my sumo and watching my opponents carefully."

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