Delante “Tiger” Johnson has signed a deal with Split-T Management as the U.S. Olympian from the Tokyo Games embarks on his pro career.
Johnson will apparently be going by simply Tiger Johnson, but we included the Delante part for this story because nobody was calling him just Tiger during his Olympic run, and that’s been his biggest exposure to date.
The 23-year-old from Cleveland advanced to the quarterfinal round as a welterweight in Tokyo before losing to Cuba’s Roniel Iglesias, who would go on to win gold. He plans to fight at 147 as a professional.
“Signing with Split-T Management is a dream come true. I have a great relationship with Dave McWater. He has seen me fight as a youth, and has followed my amateur career very closely,” Johnson said. “I am very comfortable with Dave and his team because he has taught me a lot about life outside the ring, and has given me great advice. Being that comfortable has helped me in the ring,” said Johnson.
“Tiger is just such a special kid. I first saw him in Reno in January of 2016, and I immediately knew that he was going to be a star. I am excited to be part of his journey,” said McWater.
Being fully honest from what we saw of Johnson in Tokyo, he didn’t jump out as a blue chip prospect or anything. I thought he was very fortunate, to put it kindly, to get out of the first round against Argentina’s Brian Arregui. but you have to remember that the Olympics are a top-level competition, too, and not all the good fighters make it to the podium at the end. We saw a lot of that with the 2012 U.S. Olympic team, where none of the men medaled and that was a group that had Errol Spence Jr, Jose Ramirez, Joseph Diaz Jr, Jamel Herring, and Rau’shee Warren, who have all won world titles as professionals, as well as Michael Hunter, Dominic Breazeale, and Terrell Gausha, who have all fought for world titles, and Marcus Browne, who is a contender still at 175.
So even if he wasn’t a mega standout in Tokyo, don’t write Johnson off, either. He clearly does have talent and he may be someone better suited for the pro ranks.