Artistic image of boxer punching

Getting Hit: Do Boxing Gloves Hurt More than Fists?

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If you are just getting started with boxing, one question is undoubtedly top of mind. What hurts more, getting punched with boxing gloves or fists?

Boxing gloves hurt in a different manner than bare fists. Gloves have padding to disperse the impact of punches, but the additional weight leads to more cumulative force, which can hurt more over the long run. Fists, on the other hand, deliver acute blows, causing much more direct damage.

Make no mistake, we are talking about fighting sports, getting hit with bare fists or boxing gloves will hurt! Read on to learn how and why getting hit hurts.

The Purpose of Boxing Gloves

The purpose of your boxing gloves is to, first and foremost, protect your hands. Additional padding is there to reduce the risk of eye injuries and to prevent broken bones, and the various cuts or bruises that sometimes occur.

  • Protect Hands from Injury
  • Protect Wrists from Injury
  • Reduce Face Cuts & Bruising
  • Reduce Eye Injuries

Boxing gloves are also designed to minimize any risk to your wrists. When you throw a punch, the shock travels up your arm. Gloves go over your wrists to keep them stable and support them throughout the fight.

Boxing gloves also allow you to train harder without having to worry about increasing your overall risk of injury. Although training gloves are designed a little differently than those you will use in the ring, their primary purpose is to allow you to strike without injuring your hand.

How Hard are Boxing Gloves?

Boxer delivering a punch to the body

Boxing gloves are soft, yet hard. How could padded gloves be “hard”? Think of it like water. You can swim and jump in a pool all day long with no pain, but the minute you do a belly flop off the diving board you feel the sting.

It is all about surface area and speed. Gloves feel nice and soft on your hands, but the minute they strike your face they feel hard. The speed of the punch and large area of the glove combines to make it feel hard on impact.

Different padding feels different as well. Foam has varying hardnesses, and Gel padding feels different than foam. Gel padding is designed to reduce the impact of punches, dispersing some of the energy through the gel, rather than the fighter.

How Much does it Hurt to Get Hit with Boxing Gloves?

Getting hit hurts, even with boxing gloves. How and where and how you get hit matters greatly in the pain you feel.

Getting popped in the nose hurts like hell! You’re going to experience bloody noses and watering eyes at some point.

Taking a skilled shot to the liver can take your breath away, and render you numb, a totally different type of pain than hits to the face!

Likewise, a flurry of body shots can leave a boxer dazed and confused, as if they just rolled down a hill.

The bottom line, getting hit is going to hurt, and if you want to box you have to learn to take punches. The more skilled and experienced you get, the more confidence you’ll have in taking hits.

Do Boxing Gloves Make Punches Harder

There are a few reasons it hurts more to be hit by a gloved fist.

  • The padding used in the gloves disperses the force of the punch.
  • The gloves also add weight to the punch which increases its overall impact.
  • They allow you to hit harder while reducing your own risk of hurting your hand.
Photo: WorldSeriesBoxing (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Your fists are compact. They deliver a direct, very acute blow. This direct impact can cause much more damage in one confined area where a gloved fist creates a larger field of damage.

The type of padding that is used in making the glove will also play a role in how much a glove will hurt. Those that are filled with gel padding may give a softer punch than those filled with foam or horsehair.

Part of the reason for this is that gel is more fluid and will absorb more of the impact instead of allowing it to flow through to the fighter.

Do Boxing Gloves Cause More Damage than Fists?

Ever since Ray Mancini’s bout with Duk Koo Kim in 1982 where Kim ended up collapsing in the ring and eventually dying, there has been debate over how much damage can be caused by punches to the head.

There will always be a risk of injury, but there are also many things to consider in addition to the gloves that are used.

The speed at which you throw a punch will also determine how hard and painful the gloves feel. The faster and more accurate the blow, the more it will inflict pain.

It’s also important to remember that a heavier glove will cause more damage with each punch. Using a heavier glove during sparring will help you build strength and endurance.

Slower punches that are less accurate will still hurt but may not be as painful as a straightforward, direct hit.

During a match, it’s essential that you throw your punches quickly and efficiently. A well-placed, well-timed shot can be debilitating.

Gloves are definitely beneficial in preventing injury to both fighters, but they also contribute to damage to a certain degree.

Do Boxing Gloves Reduce Impact?

Gloves are made of leather or vinyl, two tough and highly durable materials. The shell material is pulled tightly over the foam interior that is used to protect your hand. The foam is rather hard but it is capable of absorbing most of the impact. This is what protects your hand.

When it comes to the object being hit, however, it will also absorb impact. Because it is a much softer material (usually flesh), the impact will radiate throughout, causing pain to radiate out, covering more tissue area.

You will experience pain whether you are hit with a gloved fist or a bare one, but you will quickly learn the difference between a hit from a glove and one from a bare fist.

Which Boxing Gloves Hurt the Most?

Red and White Competition Boxing Gloves

Some fighters prefer a certain type of boxing glove. Mexican gloves are often made with horsehair instead of the traditional padding. Some may prefer a glove with gel padding. It’s a personal choice for the one who is wearing gloves, but for the person they are fighting, it will still hurt.

Switching to a glove that is an ounce or two less will make your punches faster and more forceful, except this time the force is powered by your own strength and dispersed over the surface area of the glove.

While a 16-ounce glove will allow you to pack more power into a punch, a 14-ounce glove will do the same amount of damage if the punch is driven home with maximum force.

Speed, weight, skill, accuracy, and strength are combined when determining the power of a punch and the amount of damage it will cause.

Final Thoughts

Boxing is a contact sport. You are going to get hit and it will undoubtedly hurt. It’s important for you to know your equipment. Find the brand of gloves that work best for you. Learn ways to protect yourself and continually work to hone your skills in the ring.

A good fighter can land a punch, but you must also be able to take one. When you get in the ring, be prepared for anything. Watch how your opponent throws a punch. Learning their style and delivery is the best way to prevent getting hurt.


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