In fact, the Australian Muay Thai legend sees his matchup with Nieky “The Natural” Holzken as the next best thing to squaring off with his martial arts idol, Ramon “The Diamond” Dekkers.
Parr became friends with Dekkers but didn’t get the opportunity to dance with him in the ring. However, he’s been given the chance to go to war with one of the Dutchman’s legendary proteges.
“Just to share the ring with [Dekkers] would be amazing. It never happened, so this is my 2021, modern-day version of fighting Ramon,” Parr says.
“This fight means so much to me for that reason. All the Thais I’ve fought and everything else, that’s been amazing, but beating Nieky is like the dream that would cement my legacy forever. I’m really pumped. There’s no bigger fight for me out there.”
Truth be told, this is not how Parr had imagined his debut in the Circle.
Following hip surgery, the man from Queensland had hoped to ease his way back into competition rather than jump straight into a fight against the #1-ranked lightweight kickboxer in ONE Super Series.
“I called Mr. Chatri and said, ‘Nieky’s called me out. I’ll take the fight, but I haven’t had a kickboxing fight in 20 months. My last fight was in August 2019 in Japan. Is there any chance I could have a warmup fight?’” Parr says.
“Mr. Chatri says, ‘Of course, I’m a former fighter, I completely understand. Nieky’s a very tough opponent.’”
However, anticipation kept building for the matchup, which quickly became one of the most talked-about potential contests for 2021.
With that in mind, Parr’s warrior spirit encouraged him to throw caution to the wind.
“I called Mr. Chatri back like, ‘Alright, screw it, I’ll fight him,'” the Aussie says.
“He was more surprised than I was. He asked if I was sure I wanted to do this, but there was so much pressure on me. Everyone was going to think I’m scared. Nah, I want to be known as the guy who fights everyone, so screw it, let’s do it.
“I’d rather lose knowing I had a crack rather than not do it. If I lose, I’m a 44-year-old with hip surgery who had a go against number one in the world. If I win, it’s even better – a fairytale.”
One potential disadvantage for Parr is that he traveled to Singapore without anyone from his team at Boonchu Gym.
The Australian did not want to force any of his friends or training partners to suffer through quarantine, and the only man in his corner will be a Thai coach he’s “borrowing” from Evolve MMA.
Still, he won’t be worrying about that ahead of fight night.
“Nieky might bring a team from Holland, but I’m rocking up like the lone ‘Gunslinger,'” Parr says.
“I think I’m in pretty good hands. The Thais have amazing fight IQ, so I have no doubt I’ll be fine. I just had to make sure I did all the work here in Australia before I go, so I have no excuses once the bell rings.”
Despite everything, Parr is confident he’ll emerge with his hand raised and believes a Muay Thai match in 4-ounce gloves is perfect for him.
That’s because “The Gunslinger” is a pioneer in this field. Several years ago, he launched his own promotion in Australia with similar rules to those now seen in ONE Super Series.
The former WMC Muay Thai World Champion was eager to put his skills on display in the Circle when ONE launched its Muay Thai branch in 2018. That time has now come, and Parr is hoping to end his career on the highest of highs.
“To see ONE Championship take my idea a couple of years later and run it with the best in the world is such a compliment,” he says.
“The whole time I was watching it, I was thinking, ‘Oh man, I’d love to fight for those guys.’ I think it’d be rude if they didn’t put me on their show because I came up with this!
“Now, this is just the perfect scenario. If I fight well and beat Nieky, then I can hopefully get a World Title shot. If I can get that World Title before I retire, that is amazing.”