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Asa slumps to first loss

OSAKA (Kyodo) Yokozuna Asashoryu fell to a shock first defeat at the hands of Mongolian countryman Harumafuji, leaving rival Hakuho in sole possession of the lead on the 10th day of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Tuesday.

Harumafuji has been struggling with his form since his ozeki debut at the New Year meet in January but he looked completely energized when he hit the yokozuna with a laser strike in the day’s penultimate bout at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.

The key was wrapping around to get his right hand on the back of Asashoryu’s mawashi after the faceoff and moving in for the kill. Asashoryu resisted once on the edge but Harumafuji kept the momentum and shoved the yokozuna out from behind.

Harumafuji, who just passed the grade with an 8-7 mark in January, improved to 6-4.

Hakuho, in stark contrast, had little difficulty disposing of Chiyotaikai, extinguishing the ozeki’s trademark thrusting attack with a series of throat grabs before knocking him over the edge to remain unbeaten with five days left. Chiyotaikai slipped to a majority of losses with his eighth defeat.