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Asashoryu issued a stark warning to his rivals and silenced the doubters again by spanking Toyonoshima to register a sixth win at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday.

Looking to put talk of early retirement firmly behind him, the Mongolian yokozuna exploded out of his crouch to punish Toyonoshima (2-4) with some devastating neck thrusts and bumped the komusubi out to preserve his unbeaten record and stay tied for the lead at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Title favorite and fellow yokozuna Hakuho (6-0) stayed on course to claim a fourth straight Emperor’s Cup by slapping down third-ranked Takekaze (2-4) and retained his share of the lead alongside Asashoryu, Estonian sekiwake Baruto and rank-and-filer Tochiozan.

Baruto also cemented his place in the thick of the title race, sending struggling ozeki Kotomitsuki (1-5) to the dirt, while Tochiozan, a No. 12 maegashira, forced out 10th-ranked Tokitenku (2-4).

Also Friday, ozeki Chiyotaikai and Kotooshu got their campaigns back on track but things went from bad to worse for Harumafuji (1-5).

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