By Craig Bohnert | May 26, 2016, 5:36 p.m. (ET)
Marlen Esparza (R) competes against Yuyan Wang of China at the AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships on May 26, 2016 in Astana, Kazakhstan.


Five world championship medals will come back to the United States, thanks to the success of women’s boxers at the AIBA 2016 Women’s World Boxing Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan. Three boxers have secured their bronze medals, while the color of medals the U.S. will bring home in the middleweight and heavyweight classes will be determined Friday.

Reigning Olympic champion and world No. 1 Claressa Shields will square off against Nouchka Fontijn of the Netherlands for the middleweight (75 kg.) division gold medal in what may be a preview of the championship bout in Rio. Both scored 3-0 decisions in their semifinal bouts Thursday, with Shields defeating Nien-Chin Chen of Chinese Taipei and Fontijn, currently No. 2 in the world, eliminating Great Britain’s Savannah Marshall.

In the heavyweight (81+ kg.) division, Shadasia Green will box in her first worlds final against Lazzat Kungeibayeva of Kazakhstan. Green scored a 3-0 decision over Turkey’s Sennur Demir Thursday evening to earn her place in the gold-medal bout, while Kungeibayeva, No. 2 in the world, advanced over China’s Shijn Wang, ranked No. 3 in the world, in a similar result.

Three other U.S. boxers fell in the semifinal round and will bring home bronze medals. Marlen Esparza, reigning Olympic bronze medalist and world champion in the flyweight (51 kg.) division, dropped down a class to compete as a light flyweight in Astana. She fell to China’s Yuyan Wang, 3-0, in the semifinal.

In the bantamweight (54 kg.) division, five-time national champion Christina Cruz, No. 23 in the world, fell to Stoyka Petrova of Bulgaria, 3-0. Petrova, currently tied for second in the world as a flyweight, stepped up a class in the tournament. Eight-time national champion Franchon Crews also won bronze, her first worlds medal, in the light heavyweight (81 kg.) division after losing to world No. 1 Xiaoli Yang of China, 3-0.

Shields and lightweight Mikaela Mayer will comprise the U.S. women’s boxing team at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Virginia Fuchs was attempting to qualify in the third Olympic class, flyweight, but was eliminated earlier in the week in Astana.