WBA sanctions Klitschko-Joshua title fight

Updated: 

Wladimir Klitschko and Anthony Joshua will fight for the vacant WBA world heavyweight title in 2017 - providing the latter retains his IBF belt against Eric Molina next month.

The pair had been scheduled to face each other on December 10, the date on which Joshua will take on Molina, but that bout failed to materialise and it was never made clear if the WBA title would have been on the line.

But the WBA confirmed on Wednesday that the duo have been cleared to fight in the first half of next year.

Tyson Fury vacated the WBA and WBO titles he claimed by defeating Klitschko a year ago after deciding to take time out of the sport to deal with mental health issues.

He had already been stripped of the IBF honour, having opted for a rematch with Klitschko ahead of taking on the IBF's mandatory challenger.

Joshua, who is unbeaten in 17 fights, and Klitschko have both won Olympic gold medals.

The 27-year-old Briton is overwhelmingly fancied to defeat American Molina - who lost to Deontay Wilder when fighting for the WBC title in 2015 - in Manchester.