Beginner’s Guide to Choosing the Right Boxing Gloves

No matter if you’re new to boxing, or had quite a few bouts in the ring, having the right pair of boxing gloves is crucial to your success and safety. The purpose of quality gloves is to protect hands, knuckles, wrists, and fingers from severe injuries. Gloves are mandatory in more than a few combat sports. Besides this, you’ll be aware of the dangers to your opponent in blows that aren’t appropriately cushioned.

Purpose of Boxing Gloves

Hand injuries are the most common type that boxers sustain. Bones fracture, wrists sprain, and fingers can dislodge, even with gloves on. The purpose of a quality pair of gloves for boxing is to protect the boxer and the opponent from serious harm. The right gloves cushion the force acting on finger bones and joints, thus supporting the wrists, and lessening the impact of blows to the head and body. But there’s more to boxing gloves than something with a bit of padding that looks good on the hands.


Choosing the Right Boxing Gloves

To the uninitiated, all gloves seem the same. But this can’t be further from the truth. Gloves differ as to how and where they’re used, the sizes and weight they come in, the type, amount and placement of padding, the materials they’re made of, and how they fit and protect wrists and hands. Quite a few things to think about before buying your next pair. In addition, you’ll want something that inspires a bit more confidence in the ring, with different designs and colours on offer:

1. Boxing Gloves Types

There are four different types of boxing gloves, each used in different ways:

  • Training Gloves – These seem obvious enough. They’re used in everyday pad and bag training sessions with the aim of improving punching speed, power, and accuracy. Padding and overall weight are in just the right amount to not hinder boxing performance, while still offering adequate protection. In addition, most have a hook-and-loop Velcro enclosure to support wrists and be able to get on or off quickly.
  • Bag Gloves – Coming in somewhat lighter due to the sparser amount of padding are bag gloves. Hitting heavy bags is all about building more speed, technique and stamina, and less about outright power or protection. There’s also less wrist support. For beginners starting out with punching bags, the better protection in slightly heavier training gloves may be a better place to start to avoid injury.
  • Sparring Gloves – Sparring with a partner means having gloves with softer padding. And this increases glove weight and serves to cushion blows and punches. The 16oz gloves and above are the norm here.
  • Competition Gloves – These are similar to training gloves, but have harder padding and less of it, making them lighter. Weight ranges are from 8oz to 12oz. Punches carry more impact and speed as a result. Enclosures are always lace-up, have better wrist support, but are harder to put on or take off. There are also differences within different categories. Pro gloves for instance will have less padding in the knuckle area.

2. Materials

Materials need to be durable enough to sustain repeated blows and prevent scratching or ripping. Lower-cost gloves are made of vinyl, and these are good for lighter training sessions and not much else. A step up is synthetic leather or microfibre, with good durability, decent breathability and fit and reasonable prices.

If you’re just starting out, and with the intent of building your skills, this is the material to get. The best gloves for boxing though are made of full-grain leather from buffalo, goat, or cowhides. They’ll last longer, even with heavy everyday use, won’t rip or pick up scratches and offer the best fit. Get these if you’re serious about boxing.

3. Sizing/Weight

Sizes are specified in ounces (oz.), and this ranges from 6oz to 18oz in most types of gloves. This will depend on the boxer’s weight as well. Generally, the heavier the boxer, the heavier the glove. And there will be differences in weight between different types of gloves for the same boxer.

Pro competition gloves are usually the lightest, and sparring gloves the heaviest (to minimise injury) with training and bag gloves somewhere in between. Sizing charts are a good thing to go by to get the right size. A seasoned boxer will have several pairs that can be of different weight.


4. Padding, Wrist Support and Fit

The amount and type of padding will vary from glove to glove, and within different parts of the same boxing glove. Padding needs to absorb impact, so usually it’s thicker and layered in the palm, knuckles, and fingers, and thinner but denser around the wrists. Sparring gloves have the most padding, also making them the heaviest, while pro fighting gloves have the least.

Wrists endure a lot of strain and need to be supported. This can be in wraparound (hook and loop) Velcro enclosures or tighter fitting lace-up gloves. The first are often standard in sparring and training gloves, and lace-ups are mostly exclusive to competition boxing. Beginners should start with hook and loop variants and work their way toward lace-ups.

Also, for the best fit, ensure that gloves aren’t too tight and that you can make a fist with minimal effort. Comfort will also depend on breathability as it reduces sweating.

5. Pricing, Brands and Looks

Getting your first pair of gloves depends on your allotted budget, the look and colour schemes that make you happy, and buying from trusted brands. Boxers can pick up a decent pair from a decent brand for around $100. More experienced boxers will want better materials, improved fit, and comfort and can expect to shell out $300 or more for quality leather gloves from specialist brands.