August 16, 2001 – By Paul Upham: IBF Pan Pacific champion Nader Hamdan’s scheduled opponent Indonesian Haris Pujono was ruled medically unfit with Hepatitis B early on Thursday morning and he will now meet Australian middleweight champion “John” Wayne Parr at the Octagon, Randwick Racecourse in Sydney on Friday night.
Parr, 8-0 (8), was scheduled to face Abdul Rasheed over eight rounds at junior middleweight on the card, but accepted a late offer to face Hamdan, 24-0 (13), over 12 rounds in the main support bout to Shannan Taylor-Julian Holland.
“We got picked up at the airport this morning and was told there was a chance I might be able to fight Hamdan,” said Parr, whose trainer and manager Rod Waterhouse agreed to the late change.
“At 1pm they rang Rod and he agreed to the fight. They then rang two hours later and told us that it was on.”
Both men looked in great condition with Hamdan weighing in a touch under 154lbs, while Parr hit the scales at 153lbs.
Hamdan looked his usual cool self after the weigh-in and seem unperturbed that he was now fighting the Australian middleweight champion, who has an undefeated record.
“Everything’s great, there is no trouble. The change in opponent does not affect me. I have been training for a fight. I am ready to go to war and ready to win. It will be another test, another win and another good fight,” said Hamdan, whose steely determination gives you the impression that you could put Oscar De La Hoya or Fernando Vargas in front of him and he would not flinch.
Parr was very enthusiastic about the change and flashed the toothy smile that you usually see in the ring after he has knocked out one of his opponents.
“Fantastic, this is my golden opportunity. This is my chance to prove myself to Australia. I have everything to gain and nothing to lose. I was going to call him out after this fight anyway. It’s come early, I got my Christmas wish early,” said Parr.
The former world Muay-Thai kickboxing champion won the Australian middleweight title in July in an awkward scrappy fight with Andriy Khamula, who retired at the beginning of the 10th round complaining of a broken hand.
Hamdan’s fight with Pujono was originally sanctioned for the OPBF title for which the Australian is the No.1 contender, but now with Parr in the opposite corner, only Hamdan’s IBF Pan Pacific belt will be at stake.
“That is a very disappointing because I was really looking forward to winning another title that would have taken me to Japan in the next couple of months for two fights,” said Hamdan.
“It would have helped improve my ranking in the WBC. Besides that I’m here to fight, I here to defend my IBF Pan Pacific title and I am here to win.”
A Hamdan-Parr fight has been talked about by many Australian fight fans recently and they have received a tremendous bonus on a card that already promised so much.
“The fans have got their wish. They wanted me to fight Parr and now they have got it,” said Hamdan.
The remainder of the undercard is a superb one although it has some changes since it was originally announced a few weeks ago.
Former Australian heavyweight champion Nathan Briggs has been added to the card and will face Simon Patterson. Two-time Australian champion Justin “The Cowboy” Rowsell faces power-punching Sammy Setu at welterweight over six rounds.
Australian lightweight champion Danny McGrail faces Ghana’s Gary St. Clair and Team Fenech’s Matt Heyes faces Mario Terre at lightweight.
The night, which has been titled as “Respect…It’s War” by promoter Kieran O’Connor, is one of the best gathering of fights this country has seen in many years. The matching of Hamdan and Parr adds even more spice to what promises to be a memorable evening.
Due to popular demand, the Octagon venue has been expanded and there has been an extra release of 1,000 tickets for the evening, which can be purchased through The Spectacular Group on Friday morning from 9am by telephone on (02) 9212 6639 or at the venue from 4pm with doors opening at 6pm. The promotion will be telecast live around Australia on Fox Sports from 7.30pm