Asashoryu nails Emperor’s Cup

Defeats Hokutoriki in playoff for third straight title

The Associated Press

Grand champion Asashoryu overpowered Hokutoriki in a playoff Sunday to win his second bout of the day and capture his third straight Emperor’s Cup on the final day of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament.

News photoYokozuna Asashoryu heaves out No. 1 maegashira Hokutoriki in a playoff to win the Emperor’s Cup on Sunday at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Asashoryu defeated Chiyotaikai in the final bout at the Ryogoku Kokugikan Arena to set up the dramatic playoff after makuuchi debutante Hakuho upset Hokutoriki in an earlier bout as both wrestlers finished at 13-2.

In the playoff, Asashoryu came charging out of the blocks, got both hands on the back of Hokutoriki’s belt and calmly lifted the top maegashira out to claim the title, denying Hokutoriki his first Emperor’s Cup.

Asashoryu, who won the previous two tournaments with perfect 15-0 records, looked strong this time around. His only losses were to Hokutoriki and fellow Mongolian Kyokutenho.

In an earlier bout, Hokutoriki missed out on a golden opportunity to win the tournament outright when he lost to Mongolian Hakuho after being thrown off his timing at the face off.

After several false starts, 19-year-old Hakuho swatted Hokutoriki down after sidestepping the top maegashira, who lost his footing and was never able to recover. Hokutoriki’s only previous loss of the tournament was to sekiwake Wakanosato.

Hakuho, a No. 16 maegashira, improved to 12-3 while Hokutoriki was handed his second loss and was forced to sit back and hope that ozeki Chiyotaikai could upset Asashoryu. It didn’t happen.

Asashoryu, gunning for his third straight title, set up the dramatic playoff when he got both arms around Chiyotaikai right after the faceoff and lifted his opponent out. Chiyotaikai finished with a lackluster 9-6 record.