Guide To Boxing Gloves Vs Muay Thai Gloves Vs MMA Gloves

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For a casual fight enthusiast, it’s quite difficult to point out the difference between Boxing or Muay Thai gloves. Though these are often used interchangeably, each one has a specific purpose. And when you compare the two with MMA gloves, there’s a significant difference between those two gloves and MMA gloves.

Before we dive too deep, it’s important to understand that boxing gloves only come in two real styles – Western Boxing Style and Muay Thai Boxing Style. With the emergence of MMA, especially the rise of UFC, a new open-finger glove design has gained popularity as a result of which it is actively competing with the other two sports. Inspired by the differences in these gloves and a common confusion amongst the masses, we felt there’s a need to discuss the topic of Boxing Gloves vs Muay Thai vs MMA gloves in-detail.

In this comprehensive glove guide, our aim will be to understand the differences between these gloves along with several other factors such as the weights for sparring, weight with respect to ages and overall impact.

The main difference between these gloves is the flexibility it offers when you try to clench your fist. Boxing gloves offer the least flexibility whereas the MMA gloves offer the most flexibility. However, it’s not just the flexibility which is different.

There are other factors such as padding, weight distribution, shape, and style to name a few.

Please note that MMA gloves used for the heavy bag are different than regular MMA gloves, if you want to learn more about that check this great guide.

Padding

Padding is a core aspect of any glove. Gloves are padded to protect the opponent from the direct force and minimize the risk of damaging one’s hands. Furthermore, the source of impact in each of the sport is different and thus the area that’s padded is different too.

Padding in Boxing Gloves

Since boxers use their knuckles for throwing a punch, that’s the most well-padded area. Though some of the boxing gloves also have padding to prevent damage to the side of the palm. It’s not normal practice as many boxers prefer gloves which aren’t padded around the wrists and palms.

Boxing gloves within themselves have several categories such as Velcro gloves or laced gloves. Laced-up gloves have more padding on the palm as compared to Velcro gloves since they don’t offer natural support as offered by the Velcro Strap. To sum it up, boxing gloves are well-padded in the knuckle and thumb area and have little to no padding in the palm or wrists area.

Padding in Muay Thai Gloves

Upon comparing Muay Thai Gloves with boxing gloves, you’ll find that Muay Thai Gloves have padding which is more evenly distributed. As opposed to boxing gloves, these gloves have less padding on knuckles and more on the back of the hand. The science behind such a design is that Thai fighters in combat need to prevent themselves from the kicks. Thus, these are designed to block or parry the kicks more so than emphasizing on landing the punch.

Another notable difference is extensive padding on the sides to prevent heavy damage from incoming elbows. Similar to boxing, these gloves have entry-level, budget and premium models. The premium Muay Thai gloves also have padding at the bottom of the palm to protect against dangerous kicks such as spinning kick or a straight-up knee to the head.

Padding in MMA Gloves

When it comes to choosing an MMA glove, you can choose whether you want a glove with less or more padding. MMA Gloves have stiffer padding as compared to Muay Thai or Boxing gloves. These paddings made from gel or foam.

Current crops of MMA gloves feature gel over foam as the latter is now an outdated option. Foam, back in the day used to provide great protection, however, the gel does it one step better by making the gloves more durable. And the same can be reflected in their price difference as gel-padded MMA gloves are slightly pricier.

Credits: Ringside Boxing

Though MMA gloves are less padded, the padding implemented does a great job of providing protection to the fighters. Its Velcro straps on the wrists ensure that padding moves with you instead of being distributed in a larger area. In regards to coverage, the padding in an MMA glove is mainly at the knuckles and at the top of the hand along with wrists.

Flexibility

The best way to differentiate a Muay Thai glove from a boxing glove is by trying to test the flexibility. Try opening your hand in the gloves, if you find it too rigid, that’s probably a boxing glove. As we’ve learned in the padding section that Muay Thai gloves have a multipurpose and thus they can’t be as rigid as boxing gloves.

Flexibility in Boxing Gloves

Boxing gloves are rigid. They’re designed in a way to prevent wrist from flexing while throwing a punch. That’s the reason why the cuffs in a boxing glove are bigger. Even the wrist area is much tighter in a boxing glove as compared to other gloves. Since the padded knuckles are the point of the main contact, minimizing the padding is the best way of reducing the risk of an injury.

Flexibility in Muay Thai Gloves

An integral aspect of Muay Thai Gloves is flexibility. These gloves are designed to allow clenching the fist without any rigidity. The simple science behind its design is that Thai boxing involves clinch and kicks. Thus, catching hold of your opponent is an integral part of this type of combat. Flexible gloves and movements allow a fighter to get in a clinch and even catch their opponent’s kicks. That’s the reason why these gloves don’t have a grip bar, so to ensure maximum flexibility. Easy opening and closing of hands are a significant feature which separates Muay Thai Gloves from Boxing Gloves.

Flexibility in MMA Gloves

MMA gloves are the most flexible gloves in comparison to boxing and Muay Thai gloves. Usually made of premium synthetic leather, these gloves are designed to offer full finger flexibility along with hand protection. These gloves feature well-articulated finger ridges so to maximize the movement of fist and fingers without any restraint. 

MMA fighters use these gloves in sparring because it offers them increased flexibility and helps them with the grappling and wrestling. Furthermore, it’s more convenient since they’re going to implement their techniques or defend against using the same gloves. Most fighters when working on their stand-ups tend to use training gloves as well which is quite similar to Muay Thai gloves.

Shape and Style

As expressed earlier, the usage of fist differs in all three forms of fighting. Boxing is purely based on fists whereas Muay Thai and MMA rely heavily on grappling. Thus, when we consider the shape and style of these boxing gloves, they’re miles apart. Yes, it’s difficult for a general audience to point the difference between Boxing and Muay Thai gloves, but trust me, the difference is huge. Let’s learn how we can segregate Boxing, Muay Thai and MMA gloves based upon the shape and style.

Shape and Style of Boxing Gloves

With fists being an integral part in a boxing match, the extreme emphasis is laid on providing gloves which can deliver dense and powerful punches whilst protecting your hands. That’s the reason why the majority of the boxing gloves have a rounded shape, especially at fingers, to make a natural fist.

However, it’s not just the fingers that are of great importance but also the wrist. Thus, boxing gloves tend to have larger cuff area which fits perfectly either with lace or Velcro. That’s done keeping in mind to make gloves feel like they’re a natural part of your forearms.

Twins Boxing Gloves
Maxx Boxing Gloves

Within boxing gloves, though the majority of them have a rounded shape, there still exists a lot of variations. Some brands predominantly lean towards the rounded shape whereas some prefer a slightly flatter face. Nonetheless boxing gloves be it flat or rounded are more angled in the knuckle area and are thinner near the wrists.

Another notable aspect of Boxing Gloves is that they don’t have an even weight distribution as seen in Muay Thai gloves. They have a major emphasis on the knuckle and wrist area and not too much at the palm.

Shape and Style of Muay Thai Gloves

Though Muay Thai gloves resemble boxing gloves, there are a few major differences. Majority of the Muay Thai gloves are less square and less rounded, which is the opposite of what we learned above. Muay Thai gloves aren’t as aerodynamic as the boxing gloves since they aren’t designed for quick combinations as seen in boxing gloves. And based off of that factor, one can understand why the weight of these gloves are more evenly distributed as compared to boxing gloves.

Fairtex Muay Thai Gloves
Everlast Muay Thai Gloves

Since Muay Thai gloves have a different role as compared to boxing and MMA gloves, their shape and style vary a little. These gloves are more open in the palm area so to offer increased flexibility to the fighters. Comparatively, these have smaller cuffs as opposed to a boxing glove.

Shape and Style of MMA Gloves

MMA gloves are the most distinctive of the three gloves. By far, they’re the most flexible gloves which deliver the highest impact.

Keep reading because we’ve something shocking for you in regards to impact. Back to the shape and style, MMA gloves can be used for anything from cardio MMA, grappling to even exercises such as pull-ups and weightlifting. A simple reason why you can do it is the flexibility in the palm region.

As for the shape and style of MMA gloves, you might choose from finger-aligned gloves or gloves with thumb freedom. For instance, one of the best-selling MMA gloves from “Twins” has a design in which both fingers are not adjacent to each other. These gloves have leather stripes running in-between which makes your fingers more flexible for grappling.

Everlasting MMA Gloves
Punch MMA Gloves

These gloves are often made from a synthetic or a lather material and they closely resemble a biker’s open leather gloves. In terms of aesthetics, these look flashier and fancier as compared to boxing or Muay Thai gloves.

Materials

Since the purpose of these gloves differs, the materials used to make them differs as well. For instance, boxing gloves are pure punching gloves while Muay Thai gloves are geared towards defense. 

Credits: Ringside Boxing

On the contrary, MMA gloves are do-it-all gloves with fewer capabilities in regards to combination punching and overall defense. With that said, let’s understand the materials used in all the three types of gloves.

Boxing Gloves Materials

No Boxing Glove is the same. Meaning, each of it can have a different material either on the top or in the padding. In general, the skin of a boxing glove is a tanned leather. However, if you opt for lower quality, you can also get vinyl boxing gloves.

Leather Boxing Gloves
Vinyl Boxing Gloves

Most amateur and professional competitions require the participants to wear leather gloves. Even in leather, some manufacturers majorly use nylon taffeta with a layer of leather on the top. Thus, it all boils down to the overall quality and the material used. As for padding materials, a PVC foam or Latex is used in a sheet form. Though cotton was an essential material back in the day, affordable foam and latex have taken over in recent times.

Muay Thai Gloves Materials

Similar to the boxing gloves, Muay Thai gloves too can either be made from leather from cowhide, synthetic leather or vinyl. These gloves are nowhere near the quality of premium boxing gloves if you were to use it for boxing.

Leather Muay Thai Gloves
Vinyl Muay Thai Gloves

When it comes to padding, these gloves either consist of a PVC foam or latex and are padded to absorb shocks. Though the material is pretty similar to that of boxing, these gloves are much more flexible and are designed keeping utility in mind.

MMA Gloves Materials

MMA gloves feature an upper surface generally made of either synthetic leather or vinyl. A significant difference between MMA gloves as compared to boxing and Muay Thai Gloves is the use of breathable material. 

Leather MMA Gloves
Vinyl MMA Gloves

MMA gloves are designed to take away moisture to allow fighters to get a better grip. Most of the premium MMA gloves have antimicrobial treatment which prevents odor. Thus, these gloves are always smelling fresh even though your body is soaked in sweat.

Additionally, most of the premium MMA gloves also have water-repellent nylon, which ensures a proper grip. Generally, MMA gloves feature mesh which allows ventilation thereby keeping your hands dry. In a sport where clinching and warding off your opponent’s advancement is key, soaked and slippery hands is the last thing you’d want in a sparring session. In regards to padding, most of the MMA gloves feature a Fairtex foam system.

Regardless of the sport, you want to buy gloves for, vinyl gloves are always going to be a cheaper option as compared to the leather gloves. Leather gloves are premium and offer the most comfort and durability whilst Vinyl gloves are a cost-effective alternative with a shorter lifespan.

Weights and Size

Weight and Size of boxing gloves generally go hand-in-hand. Before spending your hard-earned money, it’s crucial that you get the size which fits you perfectly. Though this is a point which you might easily overlook right now while practicing or sparring, it can have serious consequences and can lead to the wrist or other hand-related injuries. If you aren’t aware of the glove sizes, don’t worry. We’ll share a standard weight and size for all three types of gloves.

Weights and Size in Boxing Gloves

Boxing Gloves can be divided into two categories:

  1. Sparring Gloves
  2. Fight Gloves.

Sparring Gloves

Weight Category

Glove Weight

90 -120 lbs

8oz or 226 grams

120 – 150 lbs

10oz or 283 grams

150 – 185 lbs

12oz or 340 grams

185 lbs +

14-16oz (396 – 453 grams)

 Fight Gloves

Weight Category

Glove Weight

<147 lbs

8oz or 226 grams

>147 lbs

10oz or 283 grams

Weights and Size in Muay Thai Gloves

For Muay Thai Gloves selection, there are four types of gloves that you can choose from.

  1. Training Gloves
  2. Sparring Gloves
  3. Bag Gloves
  4. Clinch Gloves

Training Gloves

As the term suggests, these gloves are designed for you to do pad work or bag work. You can even spar with these gloves. These are multi-purpose gloves and can be used for sparring as well. However, the only downside of that is the lighter-weight. Training Gloves are the most popular Muay Thai Gloves in the market.

Weight Category

Glove Weight

<130 lbs

10oz or 283 grams

<180 lbs

12oz or 340 grams

>180lbs

14oz or 396 grams

Women

10oz or 283 grams

 

Sparring Gloves

Sparring Gloves carry extra padding around the wrist and knuckle area. These gloves have angular shape and emphasize on protecting your hands along with your opponent’s face. Muay Thai Sparring Gloves can be used for regular bag work and similar to the training gloves, these can be used interchangeably if you’re not a perfectionist.

Weight Category

Glove Weight

<130 lbs

14oz or 396 grams

<180 lbs

16oz or 453 grams

>180lbs

18-20oz

Women

14oz or 396 grams

 

Bag Gloves

These gloves are amongst the lightest gloves usually weighing between 6oz to 12oz. Nonetheless, you can hit a heavy bag without worrying about any damage. The bag gloves come with shock-absorbing material which adds to the protection factor. Again, these are niche gloves and if you’re just practicing for fun, you can easily get the job done with the training gloves.

Weight Category

Glove Weight

<130 lbs

8oz or 226 grams

<180 lbs

10oz or 283 grams

>180lbs

10-12oz (283-340 grams)

Women

8oz or 226 grams

Credits: Ringside Boxing

Weights and Size in MMA Gloves

MMA gloves weigh between 4oz to 6oz. As per UFC, a fighter’s glove weight should be in a range from 4oz-6oz. Thus, if we judge it by that standard, we can sum up the weights and size in the following categories.

Though I’ve mentioned the categories, it’s not necessary that a particular glove weight is designated to a particular weight category. The table below is just a suggestion from my end. After all, I know that body shape and size of a person differs and thus, you can check gloves as per the size which suits the best before buying them.

Weight Category

Glove Weight

88-118 lbs

4oz

119 – 148 lbs

4oz

149 – 184 lbs

6oz

185 lbs +

6oz

Training Gloves vs Fight Gloves

The reason why I’m making a separate point out of this is that fight gloves are different from training gloves. Honestly, you can train with any glove, however, when it comes to fighting, there’s a certain standard that you need to maintain.

For boxers, their fight glove needs to be between 8-10oz, thus it’s much lighter than what you’re used to in training. Ultimately, you need to decide which gloves fit the best and make you feel the most comfortable while you’re punching.

Ideal glove weight for your age

Yet again, this factor will differ from person to person based upon their body size. One size doesn’t fit all in this regard. However, there’s a general rule of thumb which might help you if you’re confused as to what’s the ideal glove weight for your age. So, if you’re buying boxing gloves for yourself or someone else, the chart below will definitely help you get an idea of glove weight.

Age

Glove Weight

3

2oz or 56 grams

4

2-4oz (56-113 grams)

5

4-6oz (113-170 grams)

6

6oz or 173 grams

7

6oz or 173 grams

8

8-10oz (226-283 grams)

9

12oz or 340 grams

10

12oz or 340 grams

11

12-14oz (340-396 grams)

12

12oz or 340 grams

13

12oz or 340 grams

14

12oz or 340 grams

15

14oz or 396 grams

16

16oz or 453 grams

I would like to specify that this is just a basic guide to give you a fair idea. Based upon your body size and measurement, this might differ.

Impact Difference between the gloves

A couple of months ago, I came across this fascinating clip on YouTube where Bas Rutten, a former UFC heavyweight champion, used his punching power to showcase the difference of impacts between three gloves – Boxing, MMA, and bare knuckles.

Rutten is pitted against a heavy bag which measures the force upon impact. For a layman watching it for the first time, it’s easy to assume that a boxing glove will have the least impact due to its heavy padding whilst bare knuckles will have more impact and generally fist breaking consequences. Nonetheless, I kept my assumptions aside and watched this clip.

Though the results were in the order I imagined, there was a significant difference in what I had hoped. The bare fist delivered 370 kgs of force whereas the MMA gloves delivered 295 kgs of force. Stunningly, boxing gloves with all its criticism still managed to deliver an astounding 291 kgs of force, i.e. just 4 kgs less than an MMA glove. This result was myth-shattering for me on a personal level as I thought that MMA or Kickboxing gloves carried much significant power than boxing gloves.

Pricing

Pricing is a factor which makes a major difference for the casual fight sports enthusiast. Nobody wants to invest too much in a pair of gloves which they aren’t going to use for competitions. Thus, pricing is an integral factor in decision making.

Among these three gloves, Boxing gloves are the most expensive followed by Muay Thai and MMA gloves. Sure, there are cheap alternatives everywhere but when it comes to standard pricing boxing gloves are expensive.

Boxing Gloves Pricing Tier

Component

Price Range

Real Leather/Luxury

$150+

Premium

$100-150

Standard

$40-$100

Muay Thai Gloves Pricing Tier

Component

Price Range

Real Leather/Luxury

$100-120

Premium

$60-100

Standard

$20-$50

MMA Gloves Pricing Tier

Component

Price Range

Real Leather/Luxury

$40-80

Premium

$20-40

Standard

$10-$20

Best Gloves – Boxing Gloves | Muay Thai Gloves | MMA Gloves

Gloves that have been listed below are our preferred choices in each sport. We’ve duly considered the popularity and the reviews before picking up our top-3 options in each category. Since this is not a review post, our agenda was to provide you the best gloves in the market irrespective of their price range. 

I’m not going to go on and describe each of these products in detail as that is not what this blog is about. However, if you are looking to buy gloves for training, sparring or competitions, these are the best options available in the market.

Top 3 Boxing Gloves

No

Brand Name

Price Range

 

1.

Hayabusa T3

$130-$150

 

2.

Venum Elite

$80-100

 

3.

Cleto Reyes

$160-$190

 

Top 3 Muay Thai Gloves

Top 3 MMA Gloves

No

Brand Name

Price Range

 

1.

Hayabusa T3

$79.99

 

2.

RDX MMA Gloves

$27.99-$89.99

 

3.

Venum Challenger

$45.99-47.99

 

Gloves for a Casual Fighter

For a casual fighter who doesn’t want to commit long term, buying an expensive gear wouldn’t make sense. As a casual fighter, you can use boxing or Muay Thai boxing gloves, it doesn’t make much difference. 

Assuming that you’ll train light and just want to keep up your fitness levels, you should look for the most affordable option instead of the best quality. Thus, the price range you should go for is between $40-60 for boxing gloves, $20-$40 for Muay Thai gloves and $10-$20 for MMA gloves.

Can use boxing and Muay Thai gloves interchangeably?

When you try to research this subject on your own, you’ll find Muay Thai gloves mixed with boxing gloves, listed together as if there’s no difference between them. That’s the reason why I felt the need to write this blog post. Honestly, you can use boxing and Muay Thai gloves interchangeably when training but to what effect?

As a boxer, if you use Muay Thai gloves, your hands will be much more flexible which won’t be the case when you’re in a competitive match. Similarly, using boxing gloves in Muay Thai training doesn’t make much sense either as you don’t have the flexibility you need to clinch and defend. Thus, the simple answer to this question is Yes. You can. But you should avoid it as much as you can.

Importance of hand wraps before gloves

Before you even invest in any type of gloves, make sure you have hand wraps in place. Hands are delicate and any of these three sports have an ability to give you a long-term injury. Hand wraps protect your bones and prevent the knuckles from tearing. Moreover, they prevent the wrists from straining when you’re practicing against a heavy bag or an opponent. DO NOT FORGET TO WRAP YOUR HAND BEFORE YOU SPAR OR TRAIN!

Conclusion

I’ve tried covering as much as I could on the topic of Boxing, Muay Thai, and MMA gloves. If I have missed something, I’ll try and follow it up in another update. I hope this guide helped you drive home with some valuable points and provided you with some clarity on the subject.