Different Types of Boxing Gloves | Which Should I Use?

Different Types of Boxing Gloves | Which Should I Use?

Boxing gloves are an essential piece of boxing equipment. With so many options, here’s what you need to know about training, sparring, & competition gloves.

Published: October 26, 2021

Topics: Reviews, Boxing Equipment

Author: Mollie McGurk

Hands are a boxers’ greatest asset. This makes boxing gloves one of a boxers’ most essential pieces of protective gear. Several different types of gloves have evolved in the boxing world, as well as other types of gloves designed for various martial arts disciplines, such as Muay Thai and MMA.

Since gloves are a fighters’ first line of defense against hand injuries, it’s important to choose the right pair for what you need. When you’re researching boxing gloves, consider these four (4) main points.

Four (4) Things To Consider When Choosing Boxing Gloves

  1. Material - What the gloves are made from and their durability

  2. Padding - Thickness, and location of the protective cushioning

  3. Intended Use - What the gloves are designed for

  4. Weight - The correct weight for intended use

FightCamp Trainers Aaron Swenson & Flo Master explain here the different types of gloves, their uses, sizes, and what to look for when selecting gloves. They also share their top picks for boxing glove brands.

Let's look closer at the design behind the main types of boxing gloves, what they are used for, and how they compare to gloves from other combat sports.

Training Gloves

FightCamp Training Gloves
  • Usually made of leather

  • Thick foam padding over the knuckles

  • Stiff wrist support with lace-up or hook-and-loop (Velcro) closure

  • Good for bag and partner training

  • Protects knuckles, hands, and wrists

Training gloves are an ideal all-around glove for heavy bag and partner drills. A denser foam padding provides shock absorption, and a stiff lace-up or hook-and-loop closure (Velcro wrap) around the wrist offers good stability. Leather is the material of choice for durability in premium training gloves, though neoprene is also available. Training gloves are perhaps the most important gloves in a boxer’s arsenal, protecting the knuckles, hands, and wrists during intense workouts.

Boxing training gloves are measured by weight. If you’re unsure about which glove weight is right for you, let FightCamp Trainer Aaron Swenson break it down for you in his video on how to pick the right boxing glove weight.

Bag Gloves

Neoprene Boxing Bag Gloves

Image Credit: Everlast

  • Usually made of neoprene

  • Thin padding

  • Minimal support

  • Good for light bag work focusing on form

  • Not as much protection as training gloves

Bag gloves are the one of most minimalistic glove designs, made for technique training on the heavy bag. The padding is thin with little wrist support, allowing for boxers to feel more feedback in their hands and arms with every punch. These are most often made with neoprene rather than leather. While the minimal padding is helpful in focusing on improving technique, it also means less protection against injury. For beginners or any boxer that wants to go all out on the heavy bag, a more substantial and versatile training glove is recommended.

Sparring Gloves

Sparring Gloves

Image Credit: Fighting

  • Softer padding for lower impact

  • Good for sparring with a partner

  • Heavier weight, 16 ounces or more

Sparring gloves are designed with safety in mind. Sparring gloves are bigger than training and bag gloves, with softer padding to better distribute force on impact.

If you are new to sparring, be sure to remember FightCamp Trainer Tommy Duquette’s eight (8) tips for your first sparring session. Tommy explains how important it is to ensure you and your sparring partner are using boxing gloves that are 16 ounces or more. This is why many boxers also invest in a pair of sparring gloves. If you plan to start sparring and your traditional training gloves are lighter than 16 ounces, then you will want to get a second pair designed for sparring matches.

Competition Gloves

Competition Lace-Up Boxing Gloves

Image Credit: Adidas

  • Similar to training gloves with stiffer padding

  • Lace-up closure likely required

  • Closely regulated in competitive boxing

The rules of competitive boxing matches are closely regulated, which includes boxing gloves. The standards regulating competition gloves are further broken down into either amateur or professional, depending on weight class and division. Investing in a pair of competition gloves that meet these regulations is a must for fighters who want to go pro.

Competition gloves are very similar to premium training gloves, but they feature stiffer padding for greater impact on the opponent. Most competitive boxing standards also require these boxing gloves to have a lace-up closure rather than hook-and-loop closure to avoid potentially snagging during a fight.

Mexican Boxing Gloves

Mexican Boxing Gloves

Image Credit: Cleto Reyes

  • Subcategory of competitive gloves with more compact design and snug fit

  • Sometimes made from traditional materials such as horsehair

Mexican style boxing gloves are essentially a sleeker version of training or competition gloves. These became especially sought-after when most traditional boxing gloves were still chunky and awkward, and many boxers still use them today.

What distinguishes Mexican style boxing gloves from other types of boxing gloves is their compact padding and molded fit. Some brands, like the famous Cleto Reyes, even use more traditional materials, such as horsehair, to create a firmer cushion that is more capable of delivering a knockout punch. Cleto Reyes is still one of the best-known names in premium Mexican style boxing gloves.

Muay Thai Gloves

Muay Thai Gloves

Image Credit: Twins Special

  • Similar look to boxing training gloves

  • More padding on the sides

  • Flexible palm area for grip

Though many people associate it with kickboxing, Muay Thai is a distinctive martial art all its own. The sport has an impressive 8-point striking system that includes using elbows and knees as well as fists and feet. The Muay Thai glove may appear similar to a boxing training glove, but it has a few unique differences.

Since Muay Thai includes more potential points of attack, a fighter needs to be able to protect themselves from all angles. Muay Thai gloves feature rounded padding at the top as well as padding on the sides to protect the hands during defensive moves. Perhaps the biggest difference between boxing gloves and Muay Thai gloves is in the grip. Muay Thai gloves allow the hands more flexibility for grabbing and clinching, which are permitted in this martial arts discipline.

MMA Gloves

MMA Gloves

Image Credit: Venum

  • Look like weightlifting gloves with thin padding over the knuckles and back of the hand

  • Open finger design for grabbing

  • Flexible palm area for grip

Mixed martial arts (MMA) incorporates many fighting styles, so MMA gloves are designed to be versatile. MMA gloves feature thin padding over the knuckles and back of the hand, leaving the fingers free so the fighter has full use of their grip.

Boxers generally have no need for MMA gloves unless they want to pursue additional forms of combat sports training. Undefeated MMA fighter and FightCamp Trainer Shanie Smash shares MMA inspired workouts on the FightCamp YouTube Channel to add a variety to your boxing training!

Remember, all boxers should know how to properly use hand wraps in addition to their protective gloves. While most boxers won’t have a need for Muay Thai or MMA gloves, all boxers should have a solid pair of training gloves in their gym bag.

If you’re in the market for a new pair of boxing gloves, check out the versatility of FightCamp’s handmade, pro-fighter training gloves. Always take the time to protect your most important gear by learning how to best care for your wraps and gloves to get the most out of your investment!

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How To Care For Your Boxing Wraps and Gloves

Mollie McGurk

Mollie McGurk is a writer and has trained in boxing, kickboxing, MMA, and HIIT for over 10 years. She has also studied personal training through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) program.

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