Anthony Joshua has to wait for title defence against Wladimir Klitschko

Anthony Joshua will have a new opponent in Manchester in December after the proposed world title bout with Vladimir Klitschko fell through.
Anthony Joshua will have a new opponent in Manchester in December after the proposed world title bout with Vladimir Klitschko fell through. Photograph: Andrew Couldridge/Reuters

Anthony Joshua’s proposed world heavyweight title fight with Wladimir Klitschko on 10 December will not go ahead.

The promoter Eddie Hearn said on Monday that with the Ukrainian sustaining an injury and no decision over whether the WBA title would be on the line the fight could not happen on the date suggested. Hearn hopes the fight could take place in the spring.

Hearn told Sky Sports: “We’ve been in deep negotiations for a few weeks now, waiting on the decision from the WBA.

“I was made aware that Wladimir picked up a minor injury late last week but regardless of that, with just over six weeks to go it’s unrealistic to put together a fight of this magnitude and give it the full build-up it deserves.

“There will be an official announcement on Joshua v Klitschko coming very soon, but for now we are seeking a new foe for 10 December and building a huge card for Manchester.”

Hearn said just over a week ago that “terms are virtually there” for the fight, only for the wait for WBA sanctioning to delay the deal.

Klitschko lost the WBA belt to Tyson Fury last November, along with the IBF title. The latter sanctioning body insisted on a rematch, leading Fury to vacate that belt that was won by Joshua against Charles Martin in April. He then defended it against Dominic Breazeale.

Fury relinquished his remaining WBA, WBO and IBO titles this month and stepped away from the sport to deal with mental health issues. He also admitted regularly using cocaine and was stripped of his licence by the British Boxing Board of Control.

Klitschko appeared unwilling to fight Joshua without the WBA belt being on the line and is reportedly poised to fight Australia’s Lucas Browne for that title.

Joshua’s opponent in December could now be the IBF mandatory challenger, Joseph Parker, Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev or the fellow British Olympian David Price. Parker has indicated he is more likely to fight Andy Ruiz Jr for the WBO title in his native New Zealand.


Football League investigates Watford over alleged forged banking letter

The EFL has launched a full investigation, as Watford were a Championship club at the time, and it could hand down a hefty fine or even a points deduction. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA

Watford are under investigation from the English Football League following allegations they supplied false financial documents to the governing body.

The allegations, reported in the Daily Telegraph on Monday, centre on Gino Pozzo’s sole takeover of the Hornets in 2014, where he assumed complete control from his father Giampaolo, and the alleged use of a forged banking letter.

The EFL have launched a full investigation, as the Hornets were a Championship club at the time, and they could hand down a hefty fine or even a points deduction should the allegations be found true.

An EFL spokesman said: “We can confirm, following receipt of information from the Daily Telegraph, that we immediately commenced a disciplinary investigation into serious allegations made against Watford Football Club.

“The club has been formally contacted by the EFL and is now required to provide a full and detailed response to the allegations. Once that response is received, it will be fully considered by the EFL and appropriate action will be taken under our rules and regulations. We will not be making any further comment until we are in receipt of the club’s response.”

The Hornets are currently ninth in the Premier League after taking 12 points from their opening nine games.

The club released a statement to the Telegraph, saying: “There are two ongoing investigations. It would be inappropriate to comment further until those investigations reach completion.”


Jamie Vardy crashes Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s Ballon d’Or party

The Ballon d’Or is back in France Football’s possession, even though they contrived to elongate the release of this year’s shortlist to such an extent it made Fifa’s ceremonies seem snappy in comparison. At the conclusion of the nine-hour announcement on Monday there was still an air of predictability about it all.

Barring the most surprising result in the award’s 60-year history, Cristiano Ronaldo will be named the world’s best player for a fourth time on 9 January, with Lionel Messi trailing behind. While there were a couple of notable omissions from the list, which will not be cut to three as in previous years, all of the world’s best attacking players are present.

Having retaken sole ownership of the award following six years of sharing with the governing body, the magazine decided to drip-feed batches of five players to its website in alphabetical order hours apart and it was not until the final portion that the sole England player to be included, Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy, was announced.

A total of 30 rather than the squad of 23 used recently were named and the manner in which the nominees were made public also meant the soporific Ronaldo-versus-Messi debate plumbed new depths. Some of Ronaldo’s fans wondered if a conspiracy was afoot because the Real Madrid star had no exclamation mark at the end of a tweet confirming his inclusion while the rest did. On the other hand Messi’s supporters moaned the Portugal captain featured in the first batch because he was filed under C rather than R.

Above the inexorable pettiness fastened to this vainglorious contest the dearth of British players among the world’s best was again laid bare. Gareth Bale, after a remarkable year for club and country, has claims alongside Atlético Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann to be considered next best after Ronaldo and Messi. But the Wales and Real Madrid attacker is the only other Briton featured aside from Vardy, who was 350-1 with some bookmakers before the announcement. Those odds shortened immediately but it would be quite a shock to see him announced in the top three.

There are eight Premier League players on the list but when it comes to the winner, the Messi‑Ronaldo duopoly shows no sign of abating. This year Ronaldo is the overwhelming favourite because he won another Champions League and led Portugal to the European Championship. Significantly for a player who at times has appeared as concerned by personal titles as much as team honours, it would leave him just one behind the Argentina attacker.