Are you looking for the complete boxing gloves buying process in 2022? When we originally wrote the first version of our Ultimate Guide back in 2016 we wanted to bring you the absolute best resource for everything you could possibly want to know about boxing gloves. Since then the guide has undergone several updates, reflecting the changes in the industry, technology and brands.
We’ve broken down just about everything you need to know, from the specializations of the different styles of glove, to the different brands available.
In this 13,000+ word ultimate guide you should be able to find everything you need to know about boxing gloves. If you’ve stumbled upon this guide looking for a quick run-down on the basics of boxing gloves, but don’t have the time or patience to read the whole thing then we have just the video for you! The video below will take you through the absolute basics.
When it comes to combat sports, there’s almost always some form of glove involved. There are a load of different types of glove, but they all share a common purpose – making things safer. That said, there are negative sides to using boxing gloves, leading some groups to agree that bare knuckle boxing is actually safer overall.
In this section we’re going to take a closer look into why we use boxing gloves in the first place. To understand what protection boxing gloves provide, it’s important to look back at what the sport of boxing was like before the introduction of boxing gloves and other safety measures.
Before Boxing Gloves: Boxing Gloves Buying Process
Boxing is undoubtedly one of the biggest combat sports in the world. As well as crossing over heavily with the mainstream media (I’m sure even your Nan knows who Muhammad Ali was), it also has a dramatic impact on how other martial arts are trained and even competed.
Boxing is one of the most widely known martial arts in the world, and is widely practised worldwide. Boxing as a sport has been practised longer than records themselves, although the first records of any form of hand protection date back to Ancient Greece, where the fighters’ hands were wrapped in rawhide, although these were also intended as a method of causing more injury to the opponent as well.
The style of boxing gloves you would recognise today were introduced in England in the 18th century, where boxing was regaining popularity and recognition as a sport. At the time, gloves were only used for training, and fights were still performed bare knuckle.
It wasn’t until the late 1800s when protective boxing gloves were made a requirement, thanks to the Queensbury Rules established in 1867 which are still the basis of sport boxing rules today. The changes moved the sport away from being an unsavoury sport with an element of brutality, with large brawls and gambling as frequent occurrences, and prompted it’s first steps into being the widely accepted sport it is today.
Today, the International Boxing Association (IBA) approves new designs of gloves according to rules around weight and the amount of leather, padding and support allowed.
Boxing gloves are used in a variety of martial arts and combat sports in addition to boxing, which has led to numerous variations of gloves depending on the sport. Muay Thai for example uses a glove which is only slightly different to boxing gloves, while MMA gloves are much smaller and less padded, with open fingers to allow much better use of the hands.
So how do boxing gloves work?
Unlike most other martial arts, boxing is incredibly restricted in its move sets, with only the fists being allowed for striking. In a sporting sense this is great as it forces an emphasis on skill, however it does lead to an incredibly high intensity of strikes to the head and body. Before the modern rule set was introduced, boxing was much more dangerous. There are many factors for this – environment, lack of proper health care and medicine, no standards in refereeing and also the lack of gloves.
When boxing without gloves, the speed of a punch is much faster and without any padding it creates a much more condensed impact, which means there’s a far higher risk of cutting/tearing your opponent’s skin and breaking your own bones. It was also more common for dirty tactics to be used, and without gloves, both accidental and intentional eye gouging with the thumb is always a possibility.
Boxing gloves solve a lot of these issues. The gloves fit around the hand, naturally forming a fist shape, with a layer of protection over the whole of the back of the hand and fingers and the thumb too. The padding slightly reduces the speed at which the fist can accelerate, and hugely reduces the intensity of the impacts on both the hands and the opponent. In the moment, these drastically increasing the safety of the sport.
Where things get messy however is when we start to look at the long term effects. You would think that the padding of the gloves helps to reduce the sudden shock from punches to the head, however it isn’t quite that simple.
Think about this – how hard would you feel safe punching a wall without any hand protection? And now how hard could you hit it if you knew that your hands were well protected?
The same principle applies to boxing. In bareknuckle boxing you need to really place your shots carefully to avoid breaking your wrist on the opponent’s skull. With boxing gloves on, there isn’t the need to worry about that, leading to boxers aiming to hit the head harder and more frequently which means that the risk of concussions and brain injuries may even be higher.
Every year we learn more about the prevalence of CTE (Chronic traumatic encephalopathy) in combat sports. Many boxers from the sport’s ‘golden era’ are now suffering with severe mental illnesses and permanent brain injuries as a result of less importance placed on protection.
Although fighters will have a number of fights in their lives, the gym is where the impacts slowly build up over time. Years of hard sparring take their toll, and the general attitude has changed over the years.
Although smaller boxing gloves are used in competition, it’s important to remember that in training boxers use far more padded gloves, which further slow down punches and give far more padding, which makes things a lot safer. During sparring it’s always advised to reduce the power of your punches so that you’re practicing your skills without causing any invisible injuries.
Boxing is a sport which requires attacking your opponent, and as such is never going to be completely safe, but understanding what boxing gloves do and don’t protect you from is vital to reducing the risk of long term damage.
How Boxing Gloves Made in 2022?
As a review website, we review a whole range of boxing gloves from a host of different brands, all of which are built completely differently. One thing which isn’t discussed often is how boxing gloves are actually produced. Different factories all do things slightly differently which is why most brands will have their own unique build style or shape. We’ve done a little bit of research so that we can give you a quick breakdown on the basics of their production.
Before we get into any details, here’s a great video from Title Boxing covering the overall process of designing and building a boxing glove.
The first step in the production process is cutting the outer materials. The materials used for boxing gloves often tell a lot about the quality of the glove. Boxing gloves are almost always cut from thin cowhide or synthetic leather. Synthetic leather is often used to cut costs and can range in quality with some made of really poor vinyl, and some almost indistinguishable from real leather. Leather gloves are usually of a much higher quality and much more durable.
Sometimes the thumb is cut from the same piece of leather, sometimes it’s cut as a separate piece and stitched on to the other pieces. This mostly depends on the type of build and padding used. Other parts of the glove such as the Velcro cuff, along with any patches are often assembled now too, but kept separate from the rest of the glove for now.
Usually this is when any graphics are printed onto the gloves. It’s important to get the printing done while the materials are still flat to avoid any issues when printing. If this is done when the glove assembly has started then it will be a lot harder to achieve and limit the printable area.
Then starts the stitching, forming the shape of the glove before the padding is put in. The base of the glove is actually stitched inside out initially, which means that when the glove is inverted, the majority of the stitches and seams are on the inside. This is also a time where features like breathable meshes and grip bars are stitched into the gloves.
Traditionally horsehair was used to pad boxing gloves, and still is with some premium brands, however these days boxing gloves typically use either a combination of layered foams or IMF (Injection Moulded Foam).
The layered foams allow for different densities in different areas of the glove. Most brands have their own unique combination of padding. Usually these hold their shape partly because of the leather and partly because of the way the layering is done. IMF on the other hand is moulded and set in the shape of the boxing gloves, so hold their shape a lot more naturally.
The padding is then inserted into the sections which were stitched together earlier, usually along with the glove’s inner lining. This is when the glove starts to take shape and become recognisable. The cuff and its lining are then stitched together and is then attached afterwards and stitched into place on the bottom of the glove.
If the glove is going to be using laces then a template is laid over the opening on the palm of the glove and lace holes are punched in. If the gloves are going to be Velcro however then the Velcro strap will be stitched into place. The two sides of Velcro will have been assembled earlier. Finally a thin strip of leather is folded over the outer edges of the cuff and palm and is stitched in place to finish the glove.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this section, most brands will have their own processes which all vary slightly from one another, but this should give you a better idea of the process as a whole. Here’s a beautiful video from Yokkao, which shows a great close-up look at the construction process.
TYPES OF BOXING GLOVES:
Whether you’ve been training for a while, or are just considering taking it up, you’ll no doubt have noticed that not all boxing gloves are the same. There’s actually more variation than you would expect, and each style of glove has its own uses. Here’s a quick run-down on most of the styles of boxing glove you may come across.
In sparring, the aim of boxing gloves are to protect both you and your sparring partner, not to knock them out. You could use any pair of boxing gloves for sparring (assuming they’re an acceptable weight), however many brands sell specific sparring gloves which are optimised for the activity.
Sparring gloves are pretty similar to training gloves, however the padding is usually slightly softer or more cushioned with better optimised distribution, to make impacts less sharp. Sparring gloves are often sold in a variety of weights, however you should only really be using these at 14oz or above, depending on your bodyweight.
It’s always the coach’s decision whether or not you’re able to wear a pair of gloves during sparring. Your coach likely has a lifetime of experience under their belt and without a doubt knows more than you do, so if they believe your gloves are the wrong weight, unsafe or just generally unsuitable, then take their word for it.
It’s always best to check what weight of glove your gym suggest you should be using to spar and to make sure you buy your glove from a reputable brand if possible. Most of it comes down to common sense though; if you’re a bigger guy trying to get away with using some worn-out, second hand 14oz gloves from a dodgy looking brand nobody’s ever heard of, then you should really know better.
Amateur Competition Gloves
You’ll probably never need to buy yourself a pair of these, but it’s worth knowing what they are. Amateur boxing competitions tend to use a specific style of gloves, which are usually provided to the fighters by the promotion. The gloves are typically coloured red or blue, depending on the fighters corner. It’s also not unusual for the knuckle area of the glove highlighted. These features make it much clearer for the judges to score the fight.
You should only really be worried about professional gloves if you’re planning on competing. As the name suggests, these are boxing gloves which are specifically built for use in professional competition, and often sacrifice hand protection and sometimes comfort to maximise offence. Usually the padding is much firmer, also making the gloves smaller and more compact.
In a way these gloves are designed to deliver as sharp a blow as possible with each punch. Professional boxing gloves aren’t really suited to everyday training however, and shouldn’t really be used much outside competition. For most competitions you’ll be using 8oz or 10oz gloves depending on the weight. Pro gloves are almost always lace-up, as it’s rare for high level competitions to allow Velcro boxing gloves at all.
Don’t be fooled by the ‘pro-style’ boxing gloves sold for dirt cheap in your local sports store, those are just brands using the term as an advertising gimmick and are often just basic training gloves. True professional boxing gloves aren’t cheap in the slightest, and many boxers pay hundreds for a good pair.
Mexican style boxing gloves
In the early days of boxing when boxing gloves were big bubbles of padding, Mexican style gloves were vastly unique. Their sleeker shape and tighter padding made them stand out. These days, the features are more standard and the term has been thrown around a lot more, however there are still a number of ‘mexican style gloves’ available. In essence, they’re really a sub-category of professional boxing gloves.
Many people will know Cleto Reyes as one of the top premium glove manufacturers. These are a good example of what are referred to as Mexican gloves. They’re often slightly more fitted to the hand, with a longer cuff, however the main difference is in the padding which is often more compact. Supposedly they mould to the hand superbly after breaking them in, however it likely depends on the brand of the glove. Cleto Reyes for example still use horsehair to provide a much firmer padding, with goat skin for the leather.
Muay Thai gloves
Muay Thai is a completely different sport to boxing, and the boxing gloves have developed accordingly. The gloves are aimed more at kickboxers who need a move versatile boxing glove. Thailand has a large number of glove manufacturers which each excel in different aspects, however all of them focus a lot more on a more distributed padding for better protection on the back of the hand, and a lot more flexibility in the grip, allowing the palm to open more to catch kicks.
It’s not uncommon for brands to have extra padding down the side of the palm as well. Some people simply prefer the shape of Muay Thai gloves, while some people don’t at all, however it’s important to bear in mind the subtle features which make them slightly more suitable for kickboxing and Muay Thai.
How to Choose the Right Boxing Gloves
Boxing gloves have come a long way since the days of padded mittens. Gear-making has gone through decades of innovation and progress. These days, the best boxing gloves offer overall hand protection, wrist support, long-lasting comfort, and durability.
In order to choose the right boxing gloves, we need to dissect them into individual components. So what are boxing gloves made of? The exterior is usually made using real or synthetic leather that is stitched together by a skilled craftsman and sewing machine. Beneath the leather, there are layers of foam padding for impact absorption, which provides protection.
High-quality foam padding retains their shape and firmness over a longer period of time. They are firm enough for impact absorption but not overly dense so they do not pack too much heat during sparring.
That is a simplified view of boxing glove design but offers insights on choosing the right boxing gloves. Real leather is often the superior option due to its durability, feel and looks. However, modern synthetic leather like microfiber is starting to give real leather a run for the money. Microfiber leather offers better affordability, good breathability, easy maintenance and anti-bacterial properties.
A quick note on the subject of leather and maintenance, how do you clean boxing gloves? The best way to maintain your boxing gloves is to give them a wipe down of the exterior and interior right after training to remove excess moisture. This helps to keep the gloves free of bacteria and odor.
Another important element in choosing the right boxing gloves is the weight. How much do boxing gloves weigh and why does weight matter? We will cover this in the next section.
What Types of Boxing Gloves Do I Need?
It is not enough to get the high quality boxing gloves or even the best boxing gloves. You need the right tools for the right job. Before you head over to make your purchase, let’s learn about the different boxing glove models:
Hook-n-loop Boxing Gloves
Hook-n-loop (velcro) boxing gloves are the most common types of boxing gloves. They are easy to put on and take off, making them ideal for everyday training. Most boxing gloves use this type of closures and therefore, these are the most common ones you will find. For boxing, kickboxing, cardio kickboxing or Muay Thai, these are the gloves to go for.
When training, not many people think to wipe their gloves down – after all, leather is usually good at drying off quickly itself – however it’s probably a good idea to.
Just look at sparring for example. Lets say you spar with 10 people, that’s 10 people who your gloves have touched, all of who are probably a bit sweaty from training hard, plus the gloves have probably touched your own face through blocking. After training all those people’s sweat stays on the boxing gloves and can lead to unhealthy bacteria growth. You won’t visibly notice anything different, but the next time you train you’re spreading that bacteria on to other people and repeating the whole process. And what if someone suffers from a nose bleed or small cut which you may not have even noticed?
After a while, the gloves can get nasty. Wiping down your gloves makes sure they’re clean and hygienic. When you’re done training, a quick wipe with a towel should eliminate most of the problem, and you can periodically give them a quick wipe with a damp cloth (avoid soaking the leather though). To give them a proper clean, you can give them a quick once over with an anti-bacterial disinfectant wipe, however try not to do it too often as the chemicals aren’t good for the leather if over-done.
You’ve come to the end of our ultimate guide to everything you need to know about boxing gloves. Hopefully by now you know exactly what you were looking for. If there’s something you’d like to know that we haven’t mentioned, ask us a question in the comments below. We’re always happy to reply.