Running a mixed martial arts gym and a store makes it really apparent how many people when choosing boxing gloves are often confused and ill informed as to what is best for them when it comes to boxing gloves.
Boxing gloves main purpose is to absorb the impact of a blow landed on an opponent/sparring partner and secondarily to protect the hands from damage. There are basically 3 types of boxing gloves and then some style variations; Sparring gloves, competition gloves and bag gloves all with a slightly different purpose.
Sparring gloves are larger and can come with either Velcro or lace up wrist enclosure. Anything less than 12oz is not considered a sparring glove and usually 14 or 16oz gloves will be used for full contact sparring. It is usual to also wear hand wraps underneath these gloves. Sparring gloves are unsuitable for bag work both because of their design and also because largely their padding structure will be damaged by use of constantly striking a heavy bag.
The best competition boxing gloves are usually lace up although at lower levels it is not uncommon to see Velcro fastenings nowadays. Rule 8 of the famous Queensbury rules states “The gloves to be fair-sized boxing gloves of the best quality and new.” Generally speaking 10oz gloves are considered competition gloves with 8oz for lower weight divisions with similar rules in Muay Thai and in Kick Boxing. Beneath competition gloves the boxer would usually be expected to use surgical hand wrapping which is a mix of bandage and zinc oxide tape.
Bag gloves are exactly that, designed for use exclusively with heavy bags and focus mits. They offer protection to the hands with or without hand wrapping. Bag gloves should never be used for sparring however are generally cheaper than sparring gloves and certainly are a worthwhile investment for even a new starter to one of the boxing disciplines.
Gloves made of good quality cowhide leather are best and if using sparring gloves special attention should be looked at in areas such as the wrist straps where exposed Velcro can cut and injury sparring partners/opponents. The mould for the hand should be tight and thumb straps are now the norm with quality gloves. Avoid brands without a boxing/muay thai pedigree such as some of the MMA brands who simply enter the market with a glove because their name will sell what is often inferior equipment to a well made boxing or Thai made glove.
Do a little research and remember the price is secondary to how long they last as a good pair of gloves should last several years. Cheap PU gloves even from famous brands are invariably unusable in even an amateur context and should be avoided. Brands such as Everlast and Lonsdale have distinct divisions where the mass market items are never really intended for even regular amateur use.