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What Hurts More, Boxing or MMA Gloves?
Gloves as Weapons and the Relative Effect of the Bare Fist

This analysis only takes into account the protective value of the glove to the punching hand in so far as said protection encourages the puncher to punch harder and against harder targets.

Since the hype of the biggest drawing fight in human history over Mayweather and McGregor using 8 ounce gloves—which many an idiot thought gave the clutz neo-boxer an advantage—I have fielded some question in person about the subject.

The question is generally based in ignorance, an assumption that bare knuckles are more damaging and big gloves are pillows.

I have fought:

7 bareknuckle bouts

1 bout with bag gloves—old leather contact gloves

1 bout with MMA gloves

5 bouts with kenpo gloves

8 bouts with either foam karate hands or 10-14 ounce boxing gloves

I have done a lot of sparring with 14-18 ounce gloves

My experience with 8 ounce gloves is with kenpo gauntlets, which were pretty hurtful to body and head. What people do not understand is that the taped and gloved hand is a weapon system for attacking the respiratory system and the nervous system.

I will rate each of the fists I have fought with from 1-5 against respiration [RS] and nervous systems [NS], the former including the nose and the latter including the eyes.

The 5 point scale reads as so:

1. minimizes damage

2. reduces damage

3. does not reduce or increase damage

4. increases damage

5. maximizes damage

Damage Ratings

Note that the larger the hand the more damage is done no matter the glove type.

Bare knuckle is the base line, the unmodified weapon.

Bareknuckle RS-3, NS-3

Karate chops RS-3, NS-2

Contact glove RS-5, NS-4

MMA glove RS-5, NS-4

Kenpo glove RS-4, NS-4

6-8 ounce glove RS-4, NS-4

10-12 ounce glove RS-3, NS-5

14-16 ounce glove RS-2, NS-5

18 ounce glove RS-1, NS-5

Heavier gloves cushion the ribs and nose but drive more mass into the head, applying more shock to the neck.

Lighter gloves permit more combinations, more punches to the brain and more power to the brain and also spread the impact of a punch over more than one rib, effecting an attack on the cage as a breathing unit.

For my money, the nastiest glove is the leather contact glove with the lead bar grip in the palm, for brain and body.

As with any weapon, it pays to have used it before. Therefore, the fact that Mayweather has had over 30 pro fights in 8 ounce gloves and that McGregor never fought in 8 ounce gloves, gives the advantage to Mayweather.

Glove weight amplifies shock and glove density focuses it. The gloves can be pressed against hard walls and floors backstage to make them denser. The size of the hand relative to the glove adds to density as does the way the hand is wrapped underneath.

One must remember, though that the glove does not power the blow, merely modifies its impact and protects the striking hand. All gloves favor the heavier hitter and smaller gloves favor the faster puncher. In the fight under discussion Mayweather was twice as fast and six times more powerful than McGregor with his strokes.

The Punishing Art

Add Comment
BobAugust 31, 2017 12:58 AM UTC

For a good treatment of the ax-hand blow:

I don't approve of the really rough conditioning approach suggested by some of the old school exponents cited. Too risky for soft-tissue degeneration. Finger and hand exercises are better at building the intrinsic hand muscles and toughening tendons. Don't under-exercise the extensors! I use rubber bands, but to each his own.
BobAugust 31, 2017 12:44 AM UTC

For those who like a garnish of history on their roughhouse platter:

Check out "Ninth Master Seventh Play" for a laugh.