Boxing gloves come in about all shapes and sizes and, although personal preference should ultimately decide any purchase, there are some general rules that will help guide you to the right pair of gloves for you.
Let’s start with the obvious and that is, buy gloves sized to correspond to your weight class. Amateur and professional competition gloves are dictated by weight and so should your training gloves. If you weight 126lbs and are hitting a bag with 18 ounce bag gloves, you are going to feel like you are punching in quicksand. On the other end of the spectrum, if you are a heavyweight and are whaling on the bag with tiny 12 ounce gloves on, you may feel like a killer, but you will also likely develop some serious hand problems in a short amount of time. There is no rule of thumb that all gyms, coaches or fighters adhere to, but a good standard to follow is based on your fighting weight.
The idea is to use gloves that are large enough (padding and weight) to protect your hands without being so heavy and cumbersome that they throw your timing off.
In a sparring situation you need to take added measures to ensure safety and protection of both fighters so it’s better to use a heavier glove. Sixteen ounce gloves are fairly customary and common in most gyms, although once you get below 126lbs, fourteen ounce are acceptable and if you’re a light heavyweight or above, eighteen ounce are preferred. The added weight may seem cumbersome, but it is absolutely imperative to reduce injuries and the type of damage you get from numerous rounds of sparring. Studies have been done, reports shown and most experts have concluded that, in the majority of circumstances, fighters who suffer physical and mental damage acquire it through poor training, through careless, excessive or considerably too intense sparring. Obviously, professionals fight with much smaller gloves and, although you want to simulate that same experience, safety still comes first, so it’s best to err on the side of using heavier gloves in almost every situation.
Next, buy gloves that fit your hand best. All hands vary some in size, shape and the way they move. The same is true for gloves. They all have the slight variations in hand compartment size, curve of the glove, overall design, length of the wrist and a variety of features. Regardless of what others say in good or what you think you should use, wear what fits your hand best. If you let comfort be your guide you’ll inherently get better hand protection and be able to throw punches with more confidence.
Then, be sure you’re buying gloves that suit your style…your boxing style, that is. If you are a natural boxer and your game is dependent on speed, don’t buy boxy bag gloves or ones that carry all of their padding in the knuckle area. You likely focus more on speed and don’t need wide or overly padded gloves to slow you down, plus your style doesn’t lend itself to power punching so the extra foam and padding isn’t really as necessary for you. On the other hand, if you are a heavy-handed KO artist, look for gloves that are thickly padded across the knuckles and the back of the hand. Plus, pay special attention to lacing-up or putting your gloves on. A more custom, snug fit will help prevent the gloves from slipping, hitting incorrectly and will provide a more secure weapon.
All gloves have a variety of inner foam construction that gives each a different feel and experience. Closed cell foam is more firm, while open cell foam is spongier. If you have hand problems, open cell foam provides a more forgiving impact, while the firmness of a closed cell construction is more solid. Again, it ties back to personal preference. Some guys prefer the firmness of closed cell foam so they can really feel it when they connect, while others want a little give when they land a punch. Some gloves even use a combination of the two types of foam so you can get the best of both worlds.
Regardless of what type of glove you end up choosing in the end, one of the most important aspects to remember is that you to properly care for them. In order for your gloves to perform as well and as long as you want them to, you need to spend some time maintaining them. When you’re done using them, wipe off any excess sweat, oils or dirt, otherwise these contaminants break down the leather and foam that gloves are made out of. Store them in a cool, dry place. Don’t leave them to mildew and form bacteria in a closed-up, humid gym bag. Hockey great, Wayne Gretzky was once quoted as saying, “I don’t like my hockey sticks touching other sticks, and I don’t like them crossing one another, and I kind of have them hidden in the corner. I put baby powder on the ends. I think it’s essentially a matter of taking care of what takes care of you.” It doesn’t even hurt to periodically use a mild lubricant or leather cleaner on them to keep them supple. Leather can dry out and crack and shortens the life of your gloves.
Life is full of choices and the gloves you pick are one of your most important decisions you’ll make in training. Your hands are your life blood in the ring, so don’t cut corners on the type and quality of boxing gloves you buy. Put your money where your hands are and they’ll likely to pay off as one of the best investments you ever banked on.