What is the difference between Muay Thai, MMA, and Boxing Gloves?
Different types of boxing have resulted in brands developing different types of gloves. With the different types of boxing styles, it is important to choose the right type of glove depending on the fighting style (e.g., Muay Thai, MMA, and (western) boxing) as all boxing gloves come in various shapes and uses.
There are only two real styles though, two different enough to be separated. Those styles are the Muay Thai style and the Western Boxing style. When most people think, of “Boxing gloves,” they usually think of the more western style. Due to the growing popularity of MMA, there is also the new, “MMA Boxing glove,” style.
Traditional Western-Style Boxing Gloves
Boxing gloves usually have the same overall style with some slight changes. Some are more rounded than others, such as the Ringside IMF gloves, and some are more flat, like the Ring To Cage C17s. Some use a straight thumb like Winning and others used a more curved thumb like Reyes.
Practically any western Boxing glove though comes standard with a grip bar and either closure of lace or velcro, sometimes both. The materials used range from leather to synthetic to mesh, and the liners use all sorts.
Because Boxers use their knuckles and only their knuckles for striking, a Boxing gloves padding is heavily used for the knuckles. The foams used to go all over the glove but the greatest accumulation of padding will always be the knuckles to offer great protection.
Some gloves also have some thick padding on the palm side for things such as parrying but the majority is for the knuckles. Western Boxing gloves also aren’t as flexible as Thai gloves.
Our recommended western-style boxing gloves
- Hayabusa T3 Boxing Gloves
- Winning Professional Boxing Gloves (Lace-Up)
- Cleto Reyes Boxing Gloves
- Ring to Cage c17 2.0 Training gloves (Japanese style)
Hayabusa T3 Boxing gloves are one of the best boxing gloves choices we recommend. They are made with high quality and standards, which is exactly what you should be striving for when it comes to narrowing down your selection for boxing gloves.
If you are in the market for a new pair of boxing gloves that will stand up to the test, the Hayabusa T3 is a great pair of gloves to get.
Winning is widely regarded as the BEST BOXING GLOVES in the world of combat sports. Over the years, the Japanese brand has retained not just its brand respect but more importantly its quality control. There isn't any hype unlike other brands and they are not dependent on sponsorships. Winning gloves have become the defacto standard for professionals around the world. No gimmicky marketing or annual redesigns just simply amazing gloves. The gold standard and a favorite among professionals and serious amateurs alike.
Cleto Reyes is one of the most respected names in boxing and has developed some of the highest quality gloves available. When you're training for a competition, you want to make sure you're using gloves that are designed with your striking needs in mind.
These gloves have many excellent features, including an intelligently designed thumb and wrist support system that is made of 100% leather and waterproof nylon padding to keep your hands dry and ensure you have a superior training experience. These gloves are very comfortable and also feature a wrap-around hook enclosure that doesn't ever seem to slip. When it comes to comfort and performance, these are great gloves, second only to the winning boxing pair.
Ring to Cage C17 2.0 gloves are third on our Top 10 list. R2C has been successful in making more affordable Winning alternatives. The overall performance and design truly rival Winning for half the price. It is usually difficult to find a pair that works perfectly for both bag work and sparring but R2C provides the right mix with ample padding and is small enough for the canvas. R2C gloves are available in both Velcro and Lace-up depending on what you prefer
Muay Thai Style Gloves
Muay Thai gloves are used for thai boxing and are of excellent quality, although they are not identical to boxing gloves. They are designed in such a way that it is easy to open your hands and for your thumbs to clinch and grab opponents. They’re also better at blocking kicks, which is an important part of Thai martial arts. Because these gloves keep your hands open, making it difficult to make a fist, they slow down your punching combinations and rate.
Thai gloves usually have the same style. They aren’t as versatile as Boxing gloves when it comes to looks. The designs such as screen printing can be dramatic but the actual glove style is relatively the same. For example, the majority of Thai gloves are usually one solid shape from the back of the hand to the thumb. In boxing gloves, on the other hand, the thumb can be sewn on separately such as in Winning gloves. You frequently see a Boxing glove thumb split into two different colors such as Grant’s.
Thai gloves are also usually more compact than Boxing gloves. A lot of the padding is focused on the back of the hand for better blocking. The knuckle padding is noticeably thinner when compared to Boxing gloves. This is due to a Thai Boxer’s usage of other striking tools such as kicks, knees, and elbows. A Thai Boxer doesn’t need to rely on just their knuckles which means there’s no need to heavily load the knuckles with foam.
Thai gloves are also more flexible than Boxing gloves. Some Thai gloves also have no grip bar such as my Fairtex BGV1s (one of the best muay thai gloves). Both the flexibility and lack of grip bar serve the purpose of allowing the user more control of the hands during a clinch. The straight thumb implemented by Thai gloves also allows for a better grip which again aids in the clinch.
Our recommended Muay Thai Gloves
- Fairtex Muay Thai Boxing Gloves BGV1
- Top King Super Muay Thai Boxing Gloves
- Twins Special Signature Leather Boxing Gloves
- Boon Training Boxing Gloves
Fairtex BGV1 comes #7 in our Top 10 gloves list. Fairtex is another Muay Thai brand that has been making premium boxing gloves for over 40 years now and the quality of their gloves showcases their long history.
The padding is durable but not too hard, giving you just enough space to transfer the power of your punch into your target while protecting your hands from getting hurt.
Other boxing gloves make it hard to clinch effectively, but the shape of these Muay Thai gloves helps you get the most of this position.
Top King’s “AIR” gloves are a true workhorse made for punishing the heavy bag, focus mitts, or heavy sparring while giving you the peace of mind that your hands and sparring partners are nice and protected. Due to the padding, these would be great for those practicing Muay Thai or western boxing alike. Fighters with previous hand issues should also check these out or anyone in general who wants a glove that will set them apart from the crowd while giving them the performance to match.
Twins is a leading manufacturer of Muay Thai boxing gear and sports equipment. These gloves were chosen by many as the best Thai-style boxing gloves. The velcro straps on these gloves are fantastic and don't slip the way some of the other straps tend to. The padding is strong and durable and allows for some devastating punches in the ring.
Boon Gloves are by far the most comfortable piece of gear I’ve bought to use for training, and not just in terms of boxing gloves. If you’re looking for an all-around great pair of gloves. They work well as either a bag glove, for pad work, or sparring with enough padding and wrist support to keep you hitting for days. We have received numerous compliments about these gloves from others who have tried them on and I’m sure you will too if you give them a try.
Just to be clear I am referring to the Boxing MMA style gloves, not the hybrid open palm MMA gloves used by MMA fighters. Now, this is considered as a “new,” style but the gloves fall in either the Thai style or the Boxing style. For example, the Venum Challengers are primarily Thai gloves while the Hayabusa Tokushus are more Boxing.
The reason these gloves are considered a new style is mainly because of how awkward or unique they are. The Tokushus have dual velcro straps, a split backhand, and also a knuckle section that is split from the rest of the glove. Even the stitching is unique as it’s very close to the striking surface. All these qualities are things you don’t see in standard Boxing gloves. Winning, Ringside, Grant, they don’t use dual velcros, no sectioned backhand, no sectioned off knuckles. Standard Boxing gloves are traditionally one solid shape with few sections.
The MMA Boxing glove style again just falls into either Thai or Boxing. The reason these new gloves have sprouted their style is just on the looks. Another example would be Title’s new sculpted foam series. Title’s strange concoction would lead many to see these as, “MMA,” style just because of how strange they look.
Our Recommended MMA Gloves
- Fairtex FGV18 Super Sparring MMA Gloves
- High-qualityty top grain leather shell
- Extra padding for protection
- Not customizable
- Venum Challenger 2.0 Boxing Gloves
- RDX MMA Gloves (Grappling, Sparring, Competition)
- Maya hides combat-grade leather.
- Color variations
- Not all components of the gloves are durable
- Hayabusa T3 LX Leather MMA Competition Gloves
- easy to transition between bag training and sparring
- Premium quality look and feel
- One of the most expensive gloves on the market
- Combat Sports Pro Style MMA Gloves
- Affordable price
- Genuine leather
- Open palm design
- Meets competition requirements
- Not exactly competition ready
- Sanabul Battle Forged MMA Grappling Gloves
- Fast drying breathable lining
- Tilts more towards punching bag use v/s sparring use
- Everlast Pro Style MMA Grappling Gloves
- Inexpensive gloves for beginners
- Decent quality for the price
- A full wrist strap allows for customization
- Not every competition friendly
- Combat Sports Max Strike MMA Training Gloves
- 2” foam padding
- Good wrist support
- There have been reports of the gloves sliding backward sometimes, exposing knuckles
- Hayabusa T3 Training Sparring MMA Gloves
- Great hand and wrist support
- Great for long practice
- Vegan leather
- Some boxers take a long time to break into these gloves
- Everlast Train Advanced MMA Training Gloves
- Decent quality
- Have to wear wraps for protection
- Reports of strong chemical smell
- UFC Pro MMA Sparring Gloves
- One of the best gloves for sparring
- Not great for bag practice
The Fairtex Combat Sparring Gloves are one of the finest creations ever for MMA training. These gloves are relatively expensive, but if you are looking for something durable for your training, these are highly recommended. They come with a top-grain leather shell and offer complete protection for sparring and bag training. These are probably the only gloves that have an all-black look and are sure to turn heads at the gym.
We found the foam to be extra thick but not so thick that your movements are affected. Their ergonomic built-in curve in the foam ensures good movement and protection. It also has a full wraparound wristband and a hook and loop closure for added wrist protection.
Considering the price, design, durability, comfort and efficiency of these gloves, Venum Challenger 2.0 is a great way for new boxers to get started with some great gloves without breaking the bank. These gloves last a long time, hit hard, absorb most shock and are light as a feather. The amount of support given to the hand and fingers is surprisingly good considering that these gloves cost only around $50.00. With the low price-point and unmatched quality offered by Venum, you can't go wrong with the Venum Challenger 2.0 Boxing Gloves.
If durability and protection are the two factors that you're going for, look no further than the RDX MMA Gloves. They're made with Maya hide leather, which gives exceptional durability, crack resistance, and more. Their PC3 padding delivers all-around protection and is exclusively designed for impact resistance. It also provides a natural grip for grappling moves. The gloves have an open palm design, and the inner fabric promotes airflow to keep the hands ventilated and dry.
The Louis-Vuitton of MMA gloves, the Hayabusa T3 LX Leather gloves, are made from high-end hand-crafted Italian leather. It’s not just about the looks, their premium multi-layered foam technology absorbs heavy impacts and offers best-in-class protection for your knuckles and fists. It is also very versatile and allows you to smoothly transition between striking and grappling moves thanks to its Y-volar no-shift design.
These Combat Pro pair of gloves are ideal for beginners who don’t want to shell out a lot of cash while still dabbling with the sport. While they meet all state regulations for professional competition requirements, we wouldn’t recommend wearing them to serious senior-level competitions. These 5-ounce weight half mitts have 3/4-inch padding for increased safety. They will protect your hands as well as your opponents. These are mostly used for sparring, and their open palm design allows for better grappling and gripping. All that said, these are probably the cheapest gloves of decent quality that can be worn to a competition.
Boxers hate it when they have to change gloves when switching between competition and training. The Sanabul Battle Forged MMA Grappling Gloves fix that problem without compromising on performance. It is great for mixed martial arts training sessions or sparring sessions when you want to seamlessly transition between grappling and striking. The use of SBL engineered leather makes these gloves more comfortable to wear while providing the best in segment durability. What we also loved about these gloves is how quickly they dried up after a long practice session — no more slippery palms or frequent glove replacements for boxers that like to sweat it out a little more than the average Joe!
The Hook and Loop Closure System is quite cutting edge. It allows you to easily put on these MMA gloves even while wearing hand wraps underneath.
These are probably the best overall gloves for beginners. They are not as cheap as Combat Sports Pro but they are not expensive either. They are also no nonsense-nonsense and get the job done. These gloves are made with premium synthetic leather and have superior glove construction, which provides long-lasting durability and functionality. A full wrist wrap strap allows for more customization than any other glove in this category and offers superior wrist support and protection. These gloves have fantastic moisture absorbing capability but what gives them an edge over the others is their trademarked EverFresh antimicrobial treatment which prevents offensive odors from long usage.
These are hands down one of the best gloves for bag and sparring use. A 2" layer of molded foam padding ensures maximum safety during training. We thought the thick padding would interfere with mobility, but the gloves felt so comfortable due to their ergonomic fit and the hinged knuckle design allows for a full range of motion. These gloves also offer amazing wrist support with their wrap-around wrist strap that keeps them tight and secure. Our boxers liked the fully open palm design that allows for skin contact and better control. It has a good quality striking surface built with leather and can easily last more than 6 months for heavy to intense trainers.
Just like their competition counterparts (T3 LX MMA gloves), these gloves have a premium feel to them. They also feel incredibly comfortable to wear and spar with. It is designed for the boxers’ comfort and has a pre-formed curve to reduce hand fatigue and an open palm design with a fully-adjustable velcro wrist wrap closure. They are built with microfiber vegan leather that provides superior tear, crack, and abrasion resistance and helps them last longer than most other sparring gloves. The Dual-X Closure provides hand and wrist stabilization and the high-density padded foam absorbs impact and dissipates energy so your hand is protected and you can train longer.
The Everlast training MMA gloves are probably one of the best training gloves under $40 on the market today. They are made of 100% Polyurethane (PU) that provides decent durability. They have reinforced finger loops with anatomical thumb padding for increased protection while only mildly compromising mobility. They also come with an 18” hook & loop wrist strap and a tri-sect closure for extra support and protection. These are a must-have for any budget-conscious beginner who is trying to get into MMA.
Stunning gloves featuring an injection-molded foam knuckle with a pre-curved single-mold design. These could compete with any other regular boxing gloves for impact dispersion and yet offer the mobility of an MMA glove. The D-ring allows boxers to pull the strap snugly for maximum security to minimize shifting while sparring. These gloves offer less finger coverage, but they are awesome for gripping and grabbing opponents while sparring. They come with independent EVA foam segments on the thumb for extra protection while maintaining flexibility. They have been constructed from super soft grade A leather for a premium feel and long-lasting durability.
Comparison: Ring to Cage C17 vs. Fairtex BGV1
As a quick comparison between the two styles- Western and Muay Thai, we will use the Ring to Cage C17s training gloves versus the Fairtex BGV1s. For starters, the foams of these gloves are vastly different. Complete opposites but that goes for any gloves no matter the style so we will disregard that. Instead, the comparison will focus predominantly on design.
For starters, the overall shape of the BGV1s is more compact and rounded than the C17s. Due to them being Boxing gloves, the C17s also have more padding on the knuckles while the BGV1s are more padded on the back of the hand. The C17s have a grip bar, which helps to make an ideal fist, while the BGV1s lack one.
Both gloves implement a straight thumb but the design is different. The C17’s thumb is angled up slightly and more rectangular while the BGV1s are more like a rounded, flat needle angled down. The C17s also offer more overall support which is due to them not needing the flexibility of a Thai glove.
Boxing Gloves vs Muay Thai Gloves vs MMA Glove: Significant Differences
MMA vs Muay Thai vs Boxing gloves: Conclusion and Recommendations
The type of style you end up using depends on two things, first the sport you practice and secondly personal preference. I consider myself a Boxer, I’ve dedicated most of my training solely to Boxing. Because of that, I’ve used Boxing gloves for anything, whether it be a Boxing class or a Thai class.
I’ve even used Boxing gloves for MMA sparring because they provide more protection than hybrid gloves. I also just prefer the feel of a Boxing glove more than any other style. I’ve used over twenty, maybe even thirty different Boxing/Thai gloves and nothing ever beats the feeling of a Winning Boxing glove.
If your sport is Muay Thai though I would recommend using Thai gloves as they will be what you use during an amateur or pro match. While it’s fine to use a Boxing glove during Thai training, it’s best to get used to the real style.
I alternate between Everlast Power locks,
Overall a glove is just a form of protection. No matter what your primary concern should be how well a glove can protect your hands and sparring partner so make sure you always use hand wraps independent of the gloves you use. Like I said I use the “MMA,” style Tokushus and they’ve never hindered my Boxing. Using Boxing gloves for Thai also hasn’t affected my Muay Thai at all.
The purpose of a glove is protection so if a glove protects your hands and feels comfortable then I suggest you use it, no matter the style. As I mentioned though if you do train in Muay Thai or even MMA, then it would be wise to use a Thai style glove for that added flexibility to use to your advantage during a clinch and also to grow accustomed to.
Read our Best Boxing Gloves list for the Top 10 gloves this year
Which gloves do you use for Muay Thai, MMA, and Western Boxing, let us know in the comments!