Asa suffers another setback

Tochiazuma dismantled Bulgarian fellow ozeki Kotooshu to take sole possession of the lead at 12-1 on Friday while Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu was slammed to a third defeat by countryman Ama with two days remaining at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

With Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko looking on from the upper-level box seats, Tochiazuma never gave the ozeki debutant a chance to launch an attack as he steamrolled ahead and shoved his opponent over the edge with a salvo of slaps to the chest in the day’s penultimate bout at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Tochiazuma, who came out this basho facing demotion, moved a step closer to capturing his third career title with sekiwake Hakuho and rank-and-filers Tokutsuumi and Hokutoriki trailing one off the pace at 11-2.

Asashoryu, who lost to Hakuho a day earlier, was tossed down like a rag doll immediately after the faceoff with an overarm throw, leaving him with a 10-3 mark along with Kotooshu and slim hopes of winning his eighth straight title with after claiming all six Emperor’s Cups in 2005.

The yokozuna lost just six bouts in 2005 but has already suffered three defeats to start of the New Year.

Eleventh-ranked maegashira Hokutoriki (11-2) faced off in a rumble with Mongolian Hakuho but immediately backpedaled over the edge, slipping out of a share the lead.