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
Material - What the gloves are made from and their durability
Padding - Thickness, and location of the protective cushioning
Intended Use - What the gloves are designed for
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.
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.
Image Credit: Everlast
Usually made of neoprene
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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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