Boxing gloves come in a variety of different sizes, weights and colours but when it comes to professional fighting, there are strict rules on what boxers can put on to their hands. In practice, however, they can obviously wear what they want. In his recent road back to fitness, Tyson Fury was seen wearing 20oz gloves as he worked the pads.
20oz gloves are heavy and bulky, but they can serve a purpose if you want to speed up your hands for when you’re wearing lighter gloves, they also take extra effort as well which can improve your fitness. Bigger gloves are obviously safer too and provide more protection for your hands. In a fight, however, Fury will be fighting with gloves that are just half that weight. The heaviest gloves that a professional boxer is required to wear are 10oz gloves.
No Use For Small Gloves in Sparring
When you’re sparring you’re not looking to knock out your opponent to win a contest, you are improving your skills and getting in vital practice before your fight. There is a line of thought that you should train in the same weight of gloves that you’ll use in a fight, but there are reasons that you would advise against this.
As everyone knows, boxing is a brutal sport and getting hit in the head with small gloves in sparring would be a reckless thing to do. Fighters will do a lot more rounds in a gym that then do during fights, so taking those blows constantly wouldn’t be wise, even with headgear on. Another consideration is your hands. Your hand and wrist aren’t the strongest part of your body, and they need protection. Sparring in bigger gloves will give you that protection and help you avoid injury.
For anyone below middleweight, using the 20oz gloves mentioned might be a little too big and heavy, for anyone below that weight the best advice would be to probably use 16oz gloves which will give that protection, but not slow down your hands too much. Anything below that then you start to get the problems we mentioned.
Using heavy gloves for sparring also has other advantages than just the protection it can provide, using the heavier weight will get your hands used to that weight, so when it comes to putting on lighter gloves, your hands will feel better and quicker. If you want to have the feel of the size of gloves that you will use in the fight, then it would be best practice in smaller gloves for shadow boxing, pad work, and bag work.
Different Rules For Amateurs
When it comes to what size gloves do boxers use for amateurs, the requirements are to wear slightly bigger gloves than the professionals. The thinking is that, due to the decrease in the skill set and experience, fighters need the higher level of protection that bigger gloves can provide. For any amateur at middleweight or above, the requirement is that they wear 12oz gloves for a fight. While these can be quite heavy, they are still significantly lighter than the gloves you should be sparring with.
For anyone below middleweight, they have to wear 10oz gloves as their smaller size means that the dangers are less. Glove size does make a huge difference to hand speed and the power that can be generated. This is a huge difference from the likes of MMA where fighters will wear 4oz gloves which have very little padding.
In regards to what size gloves do boxers use at professional level, there are also two levels of glove weights, but where that split is and what size the gloves should be is different. Whereas at the amateur level the heavyweight gloves of 12oz are required from middleweight and above, in professional boxing everyone from welterweight and above have to wear the same size, which drops to 10oz gloves.
That’s where the real damage can be done, 10oz may still sound significant, but these gloves feel a lot smaller and a lot more powerful. They not only allow for your hands to carry a lot more power, but you’re able to move your hands a lot more quickly as well. One of the quirks in boxing is that there are only two categories of weights, meaning that Anthony Joshua wears the same size gloves when he’s fighting as someone like Kell Brook does.
Small Gloves Can Cause Broken Hands
10oz gloves don’t give a lot of protection to the hands which is why you see so many fighters having hand issues after a fight. During a fight, the viewer usually doesn’t notice and a lot of the times a fighter will be able to ignore it as the hand will go numb during the fight. This was seen during the first David Haye and Tony Bellew fight. In their first contest, Haye’s injury obviously grabbed all the headlines, but Bellew also broke his hand and required surgery to fix it. That is the danger of wearing 10oz gloves.
Floyd Mayweather also had brittle hands, and in his last fight the gloves became a significant part of the story. Usually boxing glove weights aren’t even talked about before a fight as they are just the standard size, but in Mayweather’s fight against Conor McGregor the two should have been fighting in 10oz gloves as the limit for the contest was 154lbs. In professional boxing, anyone at 147 or below will wear 8oz gloves. For their fight, however, they requested a special exception to be able to wear 8oz gloves instead. The reasons for this aren’t really known, but the thought that it would play into McGregor’s favour as it increased the chances of a knockout, so it was probably used to generate more PPV sales.
8oz gloves though also increase hand speed and that’s an advantage that Mayweather had. He also spent most of his career fighting with 8oz gloves as well, so he probably felt more comfortable. Whether the Nevada State Athletic Commission should have given them an exception is another matter, there is a clear reason why there are limits for glove sizes.
What size gloves do boxers use?
- Middleweight (165lbs limit) and above = 12oz
- Welterweight (152lbs limit) and below = 10oz
- Super welterweight (154lbs limit) and above = 10oz
- Welterweight (147lbs limit) and below = 8oz
It’s Different For Women
One place where there is more speculation about the size of boxing gloves is in the women’s game. Unlike with the men, there is no split of gloves weights dependent on your fighting weight. Instead, all professional women fight with 10oz gloves which sparks a lot of opinions.
One of the most vocal critics of the glove sizes is Olympic champion Nicola Adams who thinks that the sizes should be dropped to make for better fights. You only have to see with your own eyes what the difference is. For her fights, Adams will come in at 112 pounds. For context, in his fight against Carlos Takam, Anthony Joshua came in at over double that weight at 254 pounds. Under current rules, they have to fight with the same sized gloves.
If you watch an Adams fight then you will see that the gloves look far too big, and it’s like watching Tyson Fury sparring with those 20oz gloves that he uses. Hopefully, in the future, we will see a reduction in the sizes of women’s boxing gloves which will lead to more exciting fights.
The reasons are unclear, but boxing is a sport that should be allowed to be brutal whether it is women fighting or men. The women’s game is being hindered as the opportunity for that spectacular one-punch knockout is being taken away from them by using gloves that are far too big. Adams already has success in arguing against the rules of her sport as women generally fight in two-minute rounds, but she successfully had that changed for one of her fights to have a three minute round like the men.
What Size Should You Buy?
When looking into what boxing gloves you should buy, you have to consider the weight that you are, and the purpose that you’re going to use them for. To get the most out of your training then it’s probably the best idea to buy different gloves for different activities. If you just want the one pair for training then it’s likely that 16oz is the best fit for you, or 14oz if you’re in one of the lower weight classes.
Brands are important too, as with most things in life, you get what you pay for. Well-made gloves are designed to evenly distribute the force of a punch around the full surface of the glove so that you protect yourself from injury. They are also more likely to last, and not fray. Cheap gloves could cut your opponents when sparring, so it’s always better to invest in a quality pair of gloves.
Check out this great youtube video on choosing your next boxing gloves!
Modern boxing gloves were invented in the 1700’s but didn’t become mandatory until 1866. It’s fair to say the technology has moved on since then and they add a lot more protection now and are a lot better. Boxing gloves are an individual choice and whatever makes you feel most comfortable. As for the brands used, the most respected brands on the market are generally Grant, Winning, Everlast, Cleto Reyes and Rival. There are other brands available, but these are the ones most commonly used by professional boxers.
When it comes to gloves, some fighters prefer to sacrifice a bit of power so that they can protect their hands more efficiently. These are known as “pillow” type gloves, while other boxers with stronger hands prefer more of a punchers type glove in order to give them that extra power. All the top level gloves give you a great level of protection, but Cleto Reyes are known to be more of a puncher’s glove while sacrificing a bit of that protection.
Just like with the different weights of the glove, some boxers may choose to train in different gloves to the ones that they fight in. They may want more protection in training, and then less protection in the fight. Again, it’s whatever makes the boxer most comfortable and many have weaker hands bones than others so have to think more about the protection that they require.
It wasn’t just weight size that has been a story with Floyd Mayweather in the past, he also objected to Manny Pacquiao fighting in Cleto Reyes gloves for their fight, presumably because of the extra punching power that they provided. Mayweather generally objected to the use of Mexican gloves for this reason. The boxing legend himself always wore Grant gloves for his professional fights.
There are other considerations as well when it comes to what boxing gloves you are using for all the activities that you do. One of those is how they are fastened. In a fight, you will most likely want to have your hands wrapped using gauze and tape and you’ll generally want to have a boxing glove that can be laced up to ensure you have a tight and snug fit.
All of that takes time, however, and you probably wouldn’t want to take 20 minutes before every session having your hands wrapped properly and getting someone to tie your gloves. In training, you will mostly have your hands wrapped with re-usable cloth and then you’ll want your boxing gloves to have a large Velcro strap.
The Right Fit
So when it comes to what size gloves do boxers use, the answer depends on what you are using them for, and what you weigh. If you’re just starting out then the type of gloves that you would pick up from a store will most likely have increased weights for the size of your hand. It’s important to try them on and see which ones fits best. At the start, it’s a lot more important to feel comfortable as you start your boxing journey.
As you improve and develop your skills you’ll want to go to a more specialist boxing store as you will know what weight you want for your various activities, and you can get a glove to fit, whatever your hand size might be.
Eventfully when you get to an amateur or professional fight, that’s where the rules come into play about what you can and can’t wear. Some boxers have different requirements and in professional negotiations, sometimes the type of gloves to be worn are written into the contracts. This ensures fairness and makes sure both boxers are wearing the correct gloves. The commissions will make sure that you fight in the glove weight that matches your body weight, unless you’re Floyd Mayweather or Conor McGregor of course.