Junior featherweight titleholders Nonito Donaire and Abner Mares repeatedly have said they want to face each other in what would be one of boxing's biggest fights, but the match has gone unmade because their promoters -- Top Rank and Golden Boy -- are bitter rivals that won't do business with each other.
But Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer, Mares' promoter, told ESPN.com that he is so sick and tired of being blamed for the feud between the companies that on Friday he sent a formal offer of $3 million to Donaire promoter Top Rank in order to make the fight.
If a deal is finalized -- a long shot -- Top Rank, Donaire and Donaire's manager, Cameron Dunkin, would make a deal on how they would split the $3 million between them. It would be, by far, Donaire's biggest payday.
Schaefer said he has a deal in place already with Mares and Mares' manager, Frank Espinoza.
Schaefer said the offer was emailed to a Top Rank attorney.
"The offer is now in writing and was sent (Friday) afternoon," Schaefer said.
"There's a signature line for Donaire and one for (Top Rank chairman Bob) Arum. I signed already and Mares is in, too. It's $3 million for their side to do whatever they want with. It's probably a world-record amount of money for a man in that (122-pound) weight class."
Schaefer said the contract calls for the bout to take place "no later than June 30, but my plan would be do it either at the end of May or June 15 at the MGM Grand (in Las Vegas). I am holding the date there.
"We are not asking for any options, not asking for anything besides this fight," Schaefer said, adding that there is no rematch clause language. "We will treat Top Rank with respect. They can hang their banner up at the press conferences and the fight, we'll have the fight be announced 'in association with Top Rank,' we'll give them library rights to the fight. All that stuff. No catch weights, no bull----. This is a serious offer. I am anxious to know what kind of excuses they will come up with now."
Schaefer said the fight would be called Donaire-Mares, giving Donaire, the 2012 fighter of the year, top billing. He said Donaire can walk to the ring second, the position preferred by most fighters, and Mares would be introduced second and also would be allowed to pick the corner in which he wants to be.
"There's nothing more I can do to make this fight than to make that kind of serious offer," Schaefer said.
Schaefer also said the fight was open for bidding to any network that wants to make the best deal. Mares (25-0-1, 13 KOs) has been fighting on Showtime; Donaire (31-1, 20 KOs) is an HBO cornerstone.
"I'm going to go where I can make the most money," Schaefer said. "I believe this is a big fight and there's substantial revenues involved. I value the fight differently than Arum. I might be wrong. But I am willing to take the risk."
Most of the talk about the fight has been nothing more than lip service, even though boxing fans have been asking for the match going back to when Donaire and Mares both were champions in the bantamweight division in 2011, before they moved in weight and claimed junior featherweight belts. The fighters have taken to tweeting about their desire to make the fight as well.
Discussions, however, became more legitimate in recent weeks when Espinoza, who has a good relationship with Top Rank and Golden Boy, began to act as an intermediary in an effort to get Arum to make a deal.
According to Schaefer, about a week ago Arum sent a "low-ball" offer for the fight through Espinoza that would pay the Mares' side $1 million.
"They offered us a million dollars for Abner, Espinoza and me. It was a joke," Schaefer said. "Top Rank obviously values the fight differently than I do."
So what's the catch?
"I don't know what the catch is," Schaefer said. "I'm anxious to know about their excuses for not doing the fight. Like Bob always says, maybe the fight needs to marinate a bit longer. I'm sure they will come up with something. If Arum and Donaire go and do another fight, it means they don't want the fight because they can't make the money in any other fight than what they can make with this offer. No strings attached.
"I swear on my kids there is no catch here. This is as straight forward as can be. Bob can even bring his Top Rank banner to the fight. I don't care. I just want to make the fight.
"This is fair as can be. Arum can (question) me all he wants and this and that, but it does not change the fact that there is a great deal here for him and his fighter on the table. At the end of the day, he doesn't want his fighters to fight our fighters."
Arum is away on business in China and could not be reached for comment, nor could Top Rank president Todd duBoef.
Dunkin said he has not seen the offer but is interested in making the fight.
"I haven't seen anything yet, so how can I say if it sounds OK if I haven't seen it yet," he said. "But I have never had a problem with Nonito fighting Abner Mares. It's a great fight. Two great fighters. It's a big fight. Do I like my guy (to win)? Of course, I like my guy. Does my guy win? Absolutely. But they are two solid names and this is a big fight."
Protocol is for offers to be sent from promoter to promoter. Dunkin said once Arum or duBoef see the offer, either will show it to him.
"I'll know more when I see an offer from Top Rank and get their take on it," Dunkin said. "Is (the offer) true and straight forward? We'll find out."