Boxing gloves are simple and effective in design, offering protection both to the puncher and to the opponent being hit. Boxing gloves reduce the impact of punches by increasing the duration of each blow and spreading the impact force over a wider area than a naked first would. The smaller the glove, the more force is absorbed by both the puncher's hands and the opponent's head.
The faster you throw your punch, the harder the impact will be, which is why speed kills in the ring. Boxers usually shadow box without gloves on, since they can move their arms faster without the added weight of boxing gloves. When it comes time to throw down for real, however, boxing gloves afford them considerable protection for their hands. Although gloves translate to reduced speed and impact compared to a bare first, their use represents a fair trade because boxers can strike as hard as they can without the fear of breaking their hands.
Larger, more heavily padded gloves offer more protection than smaller gloves. This is because impact force is the amount of force spread over a given time period. Thus, the longer the punch takes to deliver its force, the less force is applied per second, reducing the initial impact of the blow and allowing the opponent to roll with the punch and minimize its concussive effect.
Other than padding, larger, heavier boxing gloves also have more surface area than smaller gloves or bare hands. While padding increases the duration of a punch, increased surface area spreads out the force of a punch, diminishing its impact per square inch. If you were to hit someone with a naked fist as hard as you could, you'd do more damage over a smaller area than you could with a boxing glove.
Types of Boxing Gloves
The pros know all about which types of gloves to use and when. Typically, training gloves are larger, have more padding and offer much more protection to the puncher and the opponent than competition gloves. When it comes time to step into the ring, professionals use smaller, harder gloves to increase the force of their punches.