Marcos Maidana has many options for a big fight

Marcos Maidana announced his return to boxing after almost five years away from the ring. Al Bello/Getty Images

The last we saw of welterweight standout Marcos Maidana was in 2014, when he went 24 rounds over two bouts with Floyd Mayweather. Maidana lost both fights, but he earned a measure of respect in pushing Mayweather to the brink.

Maidana then walked away from the sport, which at the time surprised many observers given the fact that at the time he was only 31 years old. In the subsequent years he could be seen on social media, where he seemed to be enjoying his time away from the sport, and it really seemed like his days boxing were in the rearview mirror.

At this point, he looked much more like a cruiserweight than a welterweight.

But it was reported last week that Maidana (35-5, 31 KOs) -- like many others fighters in the past -- had gotten the itch to fight again and will be returning to the ring in the summer for a tuneup affair before dipping his toe back into the deep end of the pool at 147 pounds.

Given that he is under the Premier Boxing Champions banner, there are no shortage of viable options for a big fight before the end of the year.

Maidana vs. Manny Pacquiao: "The Pacman" showed he still has something left in the tank by defeating Adrien Broner by unanimous decision on Jan. 19 in Las Vegas. No, he is no longer at his physical apex at age 40 (who is?), but he is still a marquee name in the sport and is still an entertaining fighter when he faces a willing opponent. And when has Maidana, a hard-punching Argentine, ever been unwilling to fight?

Yes, Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs), who still has bounce in his step, would perhaps be able to navigate the ring against Maidana, but Maidana has always been able to punch with authority and turn fights around with one shot.

Maidana vs. Broner: You could call this matchup, "Remember the Alamodome" as it was Maidana who handed Broner his first defeat, figuring out "The Problem" by hammering him over 12 rounds in San Antonio in December 2013. Up to that point, some believed Broner (33-4-1, 24 KOs) was the heir apparent to Mayweather, but he has been more "faux" than Floyd since that fateful night where he was floored twice and generally battered by Maidana.

Yeah, some won't like the fact that Broner (who is just 3-3-1 in his last seven contests) is getting another big fight opportunity -- especially after his nonperformance versus Pacquiao -- but just tell me you don't like this storyline.

Maidana vs. Shawn Porter: Porter isn't the most elegant or stylish fighter around. In fact, he's more like a bull in a china shop, but that's precisely why this pairing would be enticing -- Maidana and Porter wouldn't need a GPS to find one another. Porter (29-2-1, 17 KOs) would continue to crash his way forward and it would be interesting to see if Maidana, at this point in his career and after this lengthy layoff, is equipped to hold his ground to meet him halfway.

Porter, who is scheduled to face Yordenis Ugas on March 9, is currently the WBC welterweight titlist after defeating Danny Garcia in September. Porter has always been a difficult out and only world-class prizefighters (Kell Brook and Keith Thurman) have been able to overcome him.

Maidana vs. Keith Thurman: Speaking of boxers who had been dormant for a while, Thurman was last seen in March 2017, when he defeated Garcia to unify the WBA and WBC welterweight titles. Then he was sidelined with various issues. Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs) finally got back to work on Jan. 26 and defeated Josesito Lopez, but although he won easily on points, it didn't tell the whole story of the fight. Thurman was buzzed significantly by the relatively light-hitting Lopez in the seventh round.

Perhaps that could be attributed to ring rust, but you do wonder: What if he got clipped by Maidana, who speaks softly but carries a big punch? Thurman, 30, would have youth and athleticism on his side but he has shown to be vulnerable.

Maidana vs. Errol Spence/Mikey Garcia: Spence and Garcia will hook up on March 16 in Arlington, Texas, and the winner will elevate his status in the sport. They will need more well-known opponents for future pay-per-view events, and Maidana certainly fits the bill given his history and fan-friendly style.

Spence (24-0, 21 KOs) and Maidana would be a battle between two legitimate punchers with different offensive approaches. Now, a pairing with Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) would be another very interesting clash of styles, but if Mikey's older brother, Robert, ends up back in Maidana's corner, it most likely scuttles this possibility.