Boxing gloves have come a long way since they were first included in the official Queensberry Rules, which were published in 1867.
This rule required all boxers to use padded gloves that were new and of good weight and size.
Fast forward to the 21st century and things have become a little more complicated.
If you’re in a hurry, there’s a great selection of boxing gloves over on Amazon.
In this article, I look at:
- How boxing gloves are made
- If they actually make a difference
- Do different sizes and weights matter
- We’ll look at what the pros use
- Finally, I’ll help you find the perfect pair of boxing gloves
So without further delay, let’s get into it.
What Gloves Are Used In Boxing?
The shape of boxing gloves has evolved to effectively protect your hands while punching at full force. The distinct curved shape encourages a strong fist, with padding distributed mostly over the knuckles to protect your hands while training. Boxing gloves also have rigid cuffs to support your wrists while punching.
What Is A Boxing Glove Made of?
We’ve come a long way from gloves that looked more like winter mittens than protective fighting gear.
Modern boxing gloves are made from a variety of materials, often determining their quality and durability. Low-quality gloves are normally made from vinyl, which is cheaper to manufacture. Higher quality gloves, usually required by sanctioning bodies are made from leather, like goatskin or cowhide.
Boxing gloves made from vinyl or synthetic leathers generally don’t last as long as true leather.
Why Are Boxing Gloves Made of Leather?
All high-level boxing gloves are made of leather, most often 100% cowhide.
Leather is great for making boxing gloves because it’s extremely flexible and stretches very well over the protective foam padding. Leather gloves are very comfortable and tend to mold to your hands better over time. Another great quality of leather is that it absorbs moisture and odors very well.
For these reasons, boxing gloves have been made from leather in various forms since at least 1500 BC.
Back then, the Ancient Greeks used leather wrappings to protect their hands in fighting contests.
What Are Boxing Gloves Filled With?
Boxing gloves have changed a lot over the years, and definitely for the better.
For over 200 years, boxing gloves were filled with horsehair or cotton waste, or a combination of the two. From around the 1940s and onwards, chopped bits of foam were used. Most modern boxing gloves are filled with latex foam for padding because it absorbs force very well while still being relatively light.
There’s another interesting difference between boxing gloves made before the 60s and the ones we use today.
Gloves made prior to the 60s would first be stitched together and then later stuffed with padding.
Modern boxing gloves are stitched together around the preformed padding, making them easier to design.
Fairtex BGV1 boxing gloves are made of genuine leather and feature velcro straps. The tight-fit design allows you to punch faster and harder. They're all-purpose boxing gloves for professionals or beginners.
Do Boxing Gloves Make A Difference?
Boxing gloves make a huge difference, but not in the way that you might think.
You’re more likely to punch with more force if your hands are protected by padded boxing gloves, compared to a bare fist or smaller MMA gloves. Gloves may provide some initial protection to your opponent from strikes that cause cuts and bruises, but the permanent long-term damage is a risk.
Your hands are more delicate than you might think – breaking bones during a fight is relatively common.
So, wearing boxing gloves for a style that involves mainly punching is extremely important.
Does It Hurt Getting Hit With Boxing Gloves?
Most people haven’t been punched before, you might be one of those lucky (or unlucky?) few.
So it’s reasonable to wonder if it hurts being punched even with boxing gloves on.
Punching with boxing gloves certainly hurts less than being punched by smaller gloves or bare-fisted, but it’s still unpleasant. After being hit a few times, you get used to it and you can start focusing on developing actual defensive techniques for evading and blocking punches.
If you’re worried about superficial cuts and bruises that don’t look great if your day job involves working with customers, most boxers will spar with headgear to help prevent these injuries.
Like most things, exposure is key.
Once you realize that being punched isn’t that bad, you’ll get comfortable with the sensation and your confidence will rise.
Do Boxing Gloves Do More Damage?
Remember, boxing gloves weren’t invented to protect the person you’re fighting.
They were originally invented to protect your hands so that you’re able to punch harder without the risk of breaking your hand.
Boxing gloves that allow you to punch the head at full force cause the brain to rapidly accelerate and decelerate. According to the BMA (British Medical Association), repeated blows to the head like this have shown to increase the likelihood of long-term brain damage like CTE, also known as “punch drunk syndrome”.
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, is a form of brain damage caused by repeated head traumas like punches or kicks.
Long-term brain damage is a very real risk of striking arts like boxing and Muay Thai.
However, if you focus on being very good defensively like Floyd Mayweather, arguably the best defensive boxer of all time, you should be able to reduce the risk of permanent brain damage.
Is It Bad To Punch A Bag Without Gloves?
Boxing gloves may have been invented to protect your hands, but you don’t actually need them when punching the heavy bag.
Assuming you wear hand-wraps or MMA gloves to protect your knuckles and you use good punching form to protect your wrists, punching a bag without boxing gloves can actually be a good thing. Doing this occasionally with light to medium force can strengthen the bones and muscles in your hands and forearms.
Keep in mind, it’s probably not good to do this at full force, especially with incorrect form.
Another great benefit of punching the heavy bag without gloves from time to time is that you can feel what fighting someone in a street scenario would be like.
These free-standing punching bags by Gallant are really well made, and great for anyone with limited space in their training area. You can move these around quite easily if you need to.
Make sure that when you’re punching without gloves you:
- Ensure you’re making a proper, solid fist. Punching with boxing gloves almost forces you to make a good fist because of the way they’re designed. Focusing on solid fists will slow down your punches, so you’ll need to compensate for that.
- Choose your punches wisely. Training hooks and overhand rights are particularly tricky if you don’t strike cleanly. Glancing blows on the hard material of a punching bag can give you bad burns and scratches.
- Snap your punches by pulling your punches as you hit the bag surface, rather than following through like you would with gloves on. This is most likely how you’d want to punch someone in a real fight without gloves on.
Try not to overdo bag work without gloves, because a slight mistake could mean a broken hand.
Does Boxing Glove Size Matter?
If you’ve spent even 10 minutes training with gloves that are too small for you, you’ll know how much it sucks.
Using the right size boxing gloves size absolutely matters. If your gloves are too small they’ll cause excruciating cramps and blisters which will hinder your training experience. If your gloves are too loose, they’ll slip around and won’t effectively protect your hands or wrists when punching at full force.
It’s worth putting some extra time into measuring your hands so that you know which size boxing gloves work perfectly for you, letting you train without unnecessary pain.
How Do I Know My Boxing Glove Size? [Size Chart]
If you’re looking for a quick guide for choosing the right glove size for you, we’ve got you covered:
|5.5″ – 6.5″
(14cm – 16.5cm)
|6.5″ – 7.5″
(16.5cm – 19cm)
|7.5″ – 8.5″
(19cm – 21.5cm)
|8.5″ – 9.5″
(21.5cm – 24cm)
|XL or 2XL
There is more to choosing the right boxing gloves than simply finding the right size.
The weight of your gloves definitely matters.
Different Types of Boxing Gloves: Sparring Vs Training Vs Competition
Did you know that boxers actually use different boxing gloves for different types of training?
Boxers will often have 2-3 types of boxing gloves that they use when training. Larger 12oz to 18oz gloves for sparring to protect sparring partners, and harder, more densely packed 10oz to 12oz gloves for pad work and heavy bag training, depending on body weight.
Serious boxers understand the importance of using specific gloves for specific reasons.
Does Boxing Glove Weight Matter?
The weight of a boxing glove is determined by the amount of foam used, and how densely it’s packed.
Generally, the more foam your boxing gloves have the heavier they’ll be.
The weight of your boxing gloves matters, because the gloves you’d use for hitting the heavy bag or doing pad work would be lighter than the gloves you’d use for sparring with another boxer. You would want more padding in your gloves to protect your training partner from your punches during sparring.
For this reason, boxers who train more seriously will use multiple pairs of gloves for specific purposes.
Best Boxing Gloves for Sparring
Choosing the best gloves for sparring depends on your body weight.
The heavier you are, the heavier your gloves should be…generally speaking.
If you’re a boxer weighing between 100lbs and 125lbs, you should be sparring with 12oz to 14oz gloves. If you’re sparring at between 126lbs and 160lbs, you should use 14oz to 16oz gloves. If you weigh 160lbs or more, you should be using 16oz or 18oz gloves for sparring. Some boxers even have multiple sizes.
Essentially, the bigger you are the harder you punch.
Here’s a handy guide for choosing the right sparring gloves for you:
|90 – 120lb
(41 – 55kg)
|120 – 150lb
(55 – 68kg)
|150 – 185lb
(68 – 84kg)
|185lb & over
(84kg & over)
Sparring with gloves intended for heavy bags or pad work could injure your sparring partner.
Sanabul’s essential curved mitts are hand molded to fit the natural curvature of your hands. The contoured design allows you to maintain a firm, steady grip on the mitts for maximum control and comfort.
Best Boxing Gloves for Pad Work and Heavy Bags
Gloves made for this type of training should never be used for sparring.
For doing pad work or hitting the heavy bag you would typically use smaller gloves, with more densely packed foam that protects your hands while training. Boxers normally use 8oz to 12oz boxing gloves for pad and bag work, depending on their body weight.
As we mentioned before, very light boxers could get away with sparring in 12oz gloves.
Mostly because they generate far less power than a heavyweight would.
[Weight Chart] Here’s a guide to help you choose the right gloves for heavy bag and pad work:
|90 – 120lb
(41 – 55kg)
|120 – 150lb
(55 – 68kg)
|150 – 185lb
(68 – 84kg)
|185lb & over
(84kg & over)
Best Boxing Gloves for Competition
Gloves used for fights depend mostly on the rules set by the promoter or the sanctioning body.
For the most part, boxers who are competing in weight classes up to welterweight will use 8oz gloves. For fighters who weigh more than 147lbs, normally 10oz – 12oz boxing gloves are required to compete. Competition gloves are lighter than sparring gloves because you’re actively trying to KO your opponent.
Boxing gloves meant for competition should not be used for sparring.
Here’s a chart to help you choose the right competition gloves for you:
|Up to 147lb
(Up to 67kg)
|147lb & over
(67 kg & over)
What Boxing Gloves Should A Beginner Use?
If you’re first starting out in boxing, buying more than one pair of boxing gloves isn’t necessary.
Generally speaking, beginners should only need one pair of boxing gloves that work well for all aspects of training in the gym, are comfortable, and don’t cost too much. A good weight for general-purpose boxing gloves is between 12oz – 14oz, which works very well for both sparring and bag or pad work.
It’s best not to invest too much into any sport until you’re absolutely certain you’re in it for the long term.
Best Boxing Gloves for Kids
What Boxing Gloves Do Professionals Use?
Now that we’ve looked at how to find the right boxing gloves for you, let’s look at what the pros tend to use on fight night.
Here are current (2021) top 10 boxers and their boxing glove brand of choice:
|Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez
|Errol Spence Jr.
|Juan Francisco Estrada
Best Boxing Glove Brands
First, let’s look at the most popular boxing glove brands that have proven themselves.
Many of which sponsor the world’s best-known boxers.
|Cleto Reyes Gloves
Frequently Asked Questions
Heavyweight boxers will typically spar with 16oz – 18oz gloves, and use 12oz – 14oz boxing gloves for competition bouts.
Heavier boxing gloves don’t necessarily make you punch harder, but they do offer increased padding to reduce potential damage to your hands when punching at full force.
Training with heavier gloves does not make your punches faster. Instead, they build strength in your arms and shoulders, allowing you to produce more force with your punches when you switch back to lighter gloves.
Puncher’s gloves are typically harder and filled with horsehair, allowing more force to be transferred from the puncher to the opponent. A good example of puncher’s gloves are those made by Cleto Reyes.
Your hands swell up while training. When choosing the right boxing gloves for you, they should fit snug but not too tight to allow you hands to swell during training without cutting off circulation.