Whether you’re a boxing fan or just super curious, you may be wondering if those iconic boxing gloves help boxers do more damage. Or perhaps they are worn for protection instead!
In this article, we’re going to explain how boxing gloves impact the force and damage caused by a punch. We will compare a gloved punch to a bare-knuckle punch as well as other striking techniques from other martial arts.
To really test exactly how the damage is different from one punching technique to another, we would need to find a person who can perform each technique as a pro, in a controlled environment.
That’s not really feasible, so instead we look at the average damage caused and how each glove (or lack of glove) is designed to work, so we can judge just how much damage you should expect.
Boxing Glove Damage: Quick Summary
For the person wearing the gloves, they’ll receive a lot less damage to the knuckles than if they were punching bare-knuckled. That’s easy to understand.
However, the damage caused to your opponent really depends on several factors:
- Your punching strength,
- Your skill,
- Your opponent’s strength,
- Any physical weaknesses your opponent has,
- Where you strike them with your punch.
It also really depends on your training. A person with no boxing training could only strike with 60 to 170 PSI, while a professional boxer knows how to use kinetic chain, hand speed, and rapid muscle action to punch much harder.
So, if we had a pro boxer punch twice – once with gloves, once without – you could expect that the same amount of force would be applied. The difference is that the boxing glove should spread that impact over a wider area and protect the knuckles of the puncher. As a result, the force received by the opponent may be slightly less or spread over a wider area.
However, you need to factor in the fact that wearing gloves gives boxers the confidence to punch harder than they may be comfortable doing without gloves.
Contrary to popular belief, punching with boxing gloves doesn’t reduce the chances of brain damage. In fact, it can actually increase the chances and only reduces the risk of cuts and eye injuries.
So, boxing gloves may reduce or spread the force applied, but they cause just as much damage as punching bare-knuckled.
Do Boxing Gloves Do More Damage? Boxing Gloves vs…
Let’s take a closer look at how boxing gloves deliver damage compared to other gloves and fighting techniques.
We’ve already explained how a bare-knuckle and gloved punch from the same boxer should have about the same force behind it, just with a slightly different impact.
But let’s look at exactly how a bare-knuckle punch causes damage. This super grainy yet very educational video will show you exactly what happens to the brain and body when you land a powerful punch to the face.
Note that the fighter used in this scientific demonstration was not wearing boxing gloves. Even without spreading the impact of his punch, it still causes incredible damage to the brain. The brain moves around inside your skull, bashing against the front and back. This is what causes the most damage, rather than the punch itself.
At the same time, a bare-knuckled punch can do more surface damage than a gloved punch. This is because it’s a smaller surface area that the power of the punch is channeled into.
MMA gloves differ to boxing gloves in that they allow for open fingers and gripping, rather than just punching. This is because MMA (mixed martial arts) uses a wide variety of techniques that isn’t just limited to punching. An MMA fighter may need to grapple their opponent to the floor, so having the flexibility to grip as well as punch is important.
As a result, MMA gloves have plenty of padding on the knuckles, and allow for the fingers and thumb to be separated on the other side of the hand. Even with the knuckle padding, there’s still considerably less padding compared to a boxing glove.
So, a punch from an MMA glove is going to be somewhere between a bare-knuckle punch and a boxing glove punch in terms of impact and damage. Exactly how much impact and damage are caused will depend on the fighter’s skill, the opponent, etc.
A strike from a kickboxing glove might come from the knuckles, the side of the hand, or even the back of the hand. So, the padding in a kickboxing glove is spread more evenly around, rather than focused on protecting the knuckles.
The kickboxing glove looks more like the boxing glove than the MMA glove.
The punching style can be very different, even though kickboxing is derived from traditional boxing. One of the key other differences, besides the use of kicks as well as hand strikes, is the stance used. A kickboxer will stand further from their opponent, enabling them to deliver kicks as well as punches.
In general, those that practice both kickboxing and regular boxing claim that a punch from boxing gloves (with a boxer wearing them) does more damage. A kickboxer uses kicks as well as punches, so will take you down just as easily… just not with a single punch!
For an amateur, hitting someone with an open hand (which could be a palm-type slap, jab, or backhand) is much easier. The broad surface of the hand makes more of an impact and it’s much easier to hit on target. While a punch relies somewhat on arm strength to coil back and release, a slap can be created by swinging the entire body and arm towards the opponent, building up momentum to increase the impact.
So, if you are fighting an amateur without any gloves, then their open-hand strike is going to do more damage than a punch (if they can land one).
For professional fighters, it’s a little different. A palm-heal strike from a karate practitioner could do an awful lot of damage. However, much like with kickboxing, the skill and strength of karate is spread more evenly across the limbs. The boxer wearing boxing gloves, however, has solely focused on building upper body strength to land a very powerful punch.
For that reason, we think that a boxing glove punch from a professional boxer will do more damage than an open-hand strike from a professional fighter from other martial arts.
The force and impact behind a punch greatly depends on the skill and strength of the fighter. In general, adding a boxing glove to a punch will spread the impact, increasing the damage to the brain (if it’s a headshot) but reducing the likelihood of cuts and surface damage.
Compared to other martial art gloves and strikes, the boxer still has the capacity to inflict much more damage solely because boxers train for this very specific technique. Those that practice kicks, and a variety of strikes, are unlike to have the K.O. power that heavyweight boxers have developed, for example.
Oh, and don’t forget. Getting punched – whether your opponent is wearing gloves or not – is going to hurt a lot. That’s why we only advise partaking in martial arts and combat sports in a controlled, professional environment like a gym or dojo.
Do boxing gloves make punches harder?
They enable boxers to punch at their full strength, but for the opponent, the punch may not feel any harder compared to a bare-knuckle punch. The gloves are designed to protect the puncher, not the other way around. Gloves protect your knuckles and spread the force of the punch over a greater surface area – they don’t necessarily reduce the force.
Do good boxing gloves make a difference?
Yes, good boxing gloves will protect your hands when you are punching someone and give you the confidence to punch with your full strength. They are designed to prevent cuts and eye damage for your opponent; however, they don’t reduce the brain damage caused by punching someone in the head.
Does getting hit with boxing gloves hurt more?
It’s going to hurt whether you are hit with gloves or without. In theory, the puncher should be able to hit you with the same amount of force either way, but the gloves will spread the impact over a greater area.
On the other hand, gloves give fighters confidence, so they make feel more comfortable striking you with more force if their hands are protected rather than exposed bare-knuckle.
Which fighting gloves cause the most damage?
Smaller gloves with less padding, like MMA gloves, may cause more surface damage like cuts. However, the wide surface area of boxing gloves that is designed to protect the knuckles, can cause more brain damage over the long run. Most people consider boxing gloves to be more dangerous for your opponent as a result.