damage caused by boxing gloves

Do boxing gloves do more damage?

Do boxing gloves do more damage is a common question that we’ll try to answer in this article. It is hard to watch videos of former famous boxers now unable to speak because of brain damage from repeated concussions. Picture getting brain damage equivalent to a car-crash by being punched in the head, then picture having it done over and over again.

This is not what boxing used to be. Boxing does not need to be like this. Much of this is down to one thing, boxing gloves. They counterintuitively, actually make these men and women less safe.

do boxing gloves do more damage

The primary purpose of boxing gloves is not to protect the opponent’s body, but rather to protect the fighter’s hands when they threw punches. Before the emergence of boxing gloves, it was not common to punch someone square in the head with full force.

By and large, gloved boxing is far more dangerous because of the much higher rate of brain damage cases. Of course you can punch someone a lot harder in the head and much more often when your hands are protected by wraps or gloves. This is because the glove is sufficiently padded and this will prevent breaking any bones in the hands. 

Do Boxing Gloves Soften Punches?

On some level, boxing gloves actually do soften punches. The additional surface area distributes the force of the punch and reduces the impact per square inch. With a bare fist, there is a lot less surface area in comparison, and thus far more impact per square inch.

Surface Area

As noted above, boxing gloves create a larger surface area that will spread the force of punches and decrease the impact per square inch. Compared to an MMA glove or a bare fist, there is a lot less surface area and heavier impact per square inch.

However, even though boxing gloves with their additional surface area will soften the punch, this is more or less for the puncher and no, not the recipient of the punch.

What this does is reduce the risk of injury for the puncher, with the force of impact is distributed over a larger surface. Still, it is less likely to induce cuts or injuries to the face with a boxing glove compared to naked knuckles. 


Boxing gloves will also soften the punches by decreasing the speed of the punches. The higher the velocity a punch has, the harder the impact will be.

The weight and lack of aerodynamic features in boxing results in comparatively slower punches, and this, in turn, translates to diminished power.

The decrease in power is valuable for boxers though since gloves allow them to throw much harder punches without injuring their hands. Minus boxing gloves, injury to the hands can very easily occur.

Glove Material and Size

Another characteristic of boxing gloves that will regulate how much they soften punches is the type of material of the glove. There are two main types of boxing gloves.

Sparring gloves and bag gloves are for the most part used during training. Bag gloves tend to be larger and made of much sturdier material, and are used for heavy bag workouts.

They also have less material characteristically, so you get additional speed when training. The speed increase that comes from using bag gloves will increase punching power slightly.

Sparring gloves on the other hand are typically made of a softer inner material, and there is more padding. The added size of sparring gloves makes punching with speed slightly more difficult, therefore reducing power.

The reason why boxers wear gloves is to protect their hands so that they don’t break them when throwing punches. This was the initial purpose for gloves late in the 19th century back when boxing was more of a hobby and people needed their hands for blue-collar work, according to ESPN’s Nigel Collins.

However, this also incentivizes them to throw harder punches and go for more headshots, which puts fighters at a higher risk for irreparable brain damage.

One Washington State University study found that people could generate 27.9 per cent more movement when punching a heavy bag with boxing gloves than with their bare first.

That said, bare-knuckle boxers have to be more careful with their blows. As Mike Vazquez, the president of Backyard Brawls, told Complex in 2015, there are fewer punches to the head in his sport. This certainly lowers the risk of brain damage, as do the softer punches.

Do boxing gloves do more damage?

The short answer is yes.