Gear

Review: Everlast Powerlock 16oz Synthetic Velcro Gloves

Review: Everlast Powerlock 16oz Synthetic Velcro Gloves

27 February 2020

Boxing is a meaningful activity for the boxer. The ideal of boxing – what we call “the sweet science” – is a unity of science and art in which the efficient and effective fistic striking of another person gives expression to the strange beauty of human combat. This makes it one among many modes of creative struggle, a project or endeavour which demands our choice and commitment, challenges us to make something new and better out of ourselves, and opens up one possible pathway to meaning in life. Boxing is existentially potent.

Of course, for a miniscule percentage of boxers, boxing is also more or less financially potent. It puts food on the table and Lamborghinis in the garage. The financial aspect of boxing almost always eclipses the more widespread existential one in mainstream discussions of the sport. Indeed, it often seems as if money is all there is to it. But not even Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jnr, whose post-boxing celebrity life appears to be utterly devoid of meaning, is truly empty. There is still a residue of substance in the money man, left there from his days as a boxer.

Many who partake in boxing never make the existential leap into it (and possibly won’t make such a leap into anything else). They stand forever transfixed on the edge of the abyss, uncertain and fearful. To box or boxfit, that is the question for these inveterate Hamlets of pugilism. It’s boxing’s either/or. As I’ve suggested elsewhere on this blog, when you put on the gloves, you must choose between doing serious boxing (i.e. training for fighting, or at least training as if you fight) and doing some boxing-like things for your general health and fitness (i.e. boxfit).

A prince of Denmark contemplating whether to box or boxfit

In that same post, I also observed that the glove requirements of serious boxers are generally not the same as those of boxfitters. Serious boxers require good quality gloves; boxfitters don’t. This is because serious boxers tend to punch more and punch harder than boxfitters do. Accordingly, they require highly protective and highly durable gloves, whereas most boxfitters can happily get away with using landfillers. But what about the Hamlets of pugilism? What about the people paralysed by uncertainty and fear on the edge of the abyss?

We all know that Everlast’s noble mission on this earth is to help each and every one of us manifest the Greatness that is Within. And no segment of the glove market needs more help manifesting it than the Hamlets of pugilism. So, in the early 2010s, the whitecoats at Everlast’s secret Bronx laboratory set about developing something just for them: the synthetic Powerlock training gloves. Not much, if anything, is known about the “Powerlock technology” inside them. But these gloves are both the perfect representation of, and the perfect palliative for, existential angst in boxing.

Description

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Everlast has implemented the Powerlock technology in several models of glove for training as well as professional fighting. The model I’ve been putting to work over recent months is the synthetic Powerlock 16oz training glove with a velcro strap. This is the basic or standard model of Powerlock glove, and by far the cheapest as well, which is probably why you can find it on the shelves of every single big chain sports store in the suburbs of the western world.

One of my Powerlocks on one of my hands

Everlast intends the standard Powerlocks to be all-purpose training gloves. More specifically, it claims to have “engineered” the gloves for bagwork, mittwork, and sparring at the skill level of “intermediate training.” In Everlast’s tripartite system of boxing training, this means that they sit above the abominable Pro Styles, which are only intended for “basic training”, and below the leather Powerlock Pros and the MXs, which are intended for “advanced training”.

The marketing descriptions of the standard Powerlocks and the Powerlock Pros are pretty much identical. Although the precise wording sometimes varies in trivial ways, the essence is that both models

…were designed with a modern, anatomical foam construction that guides your hand into a natural fist position. The compact design provides superior fist closure for the perfect balance of comfort, speed, and protection while delivering a powerful punch.

The “foam construction” comprises “high quality 5 layer foam padding protection.” In the case of the standard Powerlocks, Everlast adds that “the premium synthetic leather construction ensures long-lasting durability and superior performance.” In the case of the Powerlock Pros, it adds that “premium leather ensures long-lasting durability, functionality and performance.”

Given these almost identical marketing descriptions, it’s an interesting question whether there’s any significant difference between the standard Powerlocks and the Powerlock Pros other than the covering material and the price. And since Everlast further describes both models as featuring a “unique Powerlock design and fit inspired by the professional competition product”, it’s also an interesting question what, other than obvious things like weight, sets them apart from the professional fight gloves.

If you’re like me and you don’t want to commit the time, effort, and money required to obtain and reverse engineer all the different models of glove in which the Powerlock technology has been implemented, then I suspect that the only way to ascertain the truth involves infiltrating Everlast’s secret laboratory in the Bronx, kidnapping a few of the whitecoats, and torturing them until they divulge everything. I, for one, don’t care enough about the truth to undertake an enterprise of that kind myself; but I’m willing to provide sincere moral support to anyone who does.

Spy drone image of Everlast’s secret Bronx lab

Like Everlast says, my Powerlocks are quite sleek and compact, even with their (almost exactly true-to-weight) 16oz padding. They’ve got a grip bar to help with proper fist formation. There’s also an attached thumb, as you’d expect, as well as a short elastic strip on the underside toward the palm to pull the closure together and improve fit. My Powerlocks are fully black, but you can find the standard model in a wide range of colourways, including a good-looking black and gold one. The obligatory stupid slogan printed on them is “Choice of Champions”.

Evaluation

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Performance

The key feature of the standard Powerlocks is of course the Powerlock technology. That’s what Everlast believes, or at least tells us, distinguishes the standard Powerlocks from all the similarly-priced and similar-looking training gloves out there in the marketplace. The impressively cutting-edge, serious-sounding name “Powerlock”, which also features on the pro fight gloves, is directly targeted at the Hamlets of pugilism wandering down the aisles in their local big chain sports store, looking for the answer.

And it’s then that the biggest problems with the Powerlock technology are the least apparent. The first is that no one, including Everlast itself, seems to have a clear and distinct conception of what it is. Does it pertain to structure or size or substance or what? How does it work? What distinguishes it from other glove technologies? This leads straight into the second, and perhaps more serious problem, which is that actual use of the Powerlocks fails to clarify anything. You never get to the point where you think to yourself, “Ahah! That must be what Everlast has in mind.” 

The Powerlock technology is here, somewhere…
…or maybe it’s here

The performance of the standard Powerlocks is similar to similarly-priced and similar-looking training gloves. As intimated by Johnny at ExpertBoxing, this may well be because many of the latter gloves are not only similar to the Powerlocks but identical to them: the same gloves from the same factory, only with another brand name printed on them. However that may be, there’s meant to be something special about the Powerlocks. Everlast won’t tell us what it is, so we can only judge on the basis of actual use. But that doesn’t tell us anything either.

The form or structure of the glove hardly strikes me as unique or noteworthy in any way. It certainly doesn’t provide an especially solid “lock” of the hand into a fist, if that’s what Everlast was intending to convey by the name “Powerlock”. Indeed, after a few months of use, I’m inclined to say that the Powerlocks are somewhat lacking in structure. The best gloves have a determinate yet accommodating structure for the fist, one which holds up even during the longest and hardest sessions on the heavy bag. The Powerlocks don’t have a structure like that; they tend toward hot and sweaty amorphousness with hard use.

This feeling is probably exacerbated by the feedback delivered by the padding. Feedback, in my opinion, lies on a spectrum. At one extreme of the spectrum is lively and definite feedback. Gloves with this feedback speak to you, as it were, about the quality of your technique and the power of your punches. At the other extreme are gloves with dull, or even dead, feedback. They mumble unintelligible nonsense or simply grunt at you. The Powerlocks are not extreme in either sense; but they do sit much closer to the dead than the lively end of the spectrum. They often land on the heavy bag with a dull thud.

The padding over the knuckles is only moderately protective for a 16oz glove. I don’t find the Powerlocks too bad for bagwork, but I think they’d frustrate harder punchers than me. They’re very well-padded on the backs of the hand and wrist. The protection and support on the underside of the gloves, however, is appallingly flimsy, almost non-existent. I’m really not sure what Everlast was thinking here. The flimsiness around the palm and underside of the wrist encourages a feeling of vulnerability which it’s very hard to shake, particularly while sparring. You don’t want to go catching or parrying stiff, forceful punches in these things.

This flimsy wrist might be the Powerlock technology

More generally, I’d recommend against hard sparring with the standard Powerlocks, despite Everlast’s usual thoughtless, indiscriminate advice to the contrary. The knuckle padding is just too firm. Although you’ll be protected enough (as long as you don’t go catching or parrying hard shots), your sparring partner will be put in the unenviable position of absorbing dull thuds like the ones these gloves so mercilessly inflict upon the heavy bag. Hard sparring is a useful method of training, but we shouldn’t make it harder than necessary for improving our skills. The Powerlocks aren’t rocks, but they’re far indeed from being pillows.

The lining in the standard Powerlocks is wonderfully luxurious – at least initially. The first few times I put them on, I was astonished by how much better they felt than gloves costing several times the price (including Winning). Unfortunately, it’s an illusion, one that surely serves its purpose whenever the Hamlets of pugilism try on new gloves at their local sports store, but soon vanishes with use. It’s then discovered that the lining is too loose and tends to bunch up in a steaming, damp mess in the finger compartment. This is not luxurious.

Durability

I’ve been using my Powerlocks for several months now, predominantly on the heavy bag. Although they’ve held up well enough so far, I’m doubtful about their durability over the longer term.

The standard Powerlocks, unlike the Powerlock Pros, are synthetic gloves. Now I’m not one of those reviewers who simply takes it for granted that leather is superior to synthetic materials. I own several high-end synthetic gloves, including Rivals and a pair of synthetic Winnings, and they’ve all proved extremely robust over years and years of regular use. But although the standard Powerlocks are obviously better quality than the worst synthetic junk gloves, I can’t imagine them lasting that long. 

First of all, there have been reports of the padding compacting and/or decaying after only several months of regular use, and I’m convinced that the padding on my own Powerlocks already feels significantly denser than it did originally. Another consideration is that the stitching on the inside of my Powerlocks has started loosening up and coming apart, as I discovered the other day when a mysterious object kept flicking my cheek whenever I brought the left glove up to my face. The culprit turned out to be a thread hanging out of the glove.

Perhaps this thread is the Powerlock technology

Although it hasn’t seriously affected the performance of the gloves (and may never do so), a big loose thread like that doesn’t inspire confidence.

Having said all that, I’m the first to admit the tentativeness of these judgements of durability. Many reviewers make definitive judgements of durability after only a few days or weeks of testing out a glove. Setting aside the worst of the junk gloves, I’m inclined to think that it’s pretty hard to make reasonable and truly informative judgements about the durability of a specific model of glove without using it as your primary glove until it fully gives up the ghost. But that’s not how most reviewers test gloves, myself included.

So what I will say is that, when you take a pair of brand new Powerlocks out of the packet, they don’t look and feel like they’re going to fall apart the first time you put them to work on the heavy bag. The build quality is exactly what’s required for all the Hamlets of pugilism in the sports stores turning these gloves over in their hands, pressing on the padding, sliding them over their hands, and wondering why some other guys at the gym spend so much on gloves when you can get these.

Aesthetics

Despite being made out of synthetic material, the standard Powerlocks are stylish gloves with a sleek, relatively compact form. My own fully black pair of Powerlocks look good, combining attractive branding (I admit to having always liked the Everlast logo) with the severe simplicity of old-school gloves. Everlast can do nostalgia very well when it puts its mind to it. Even many of the less subdued colourways look quite good, in my opinion, such as the black and gold one.

This aesthetic is testament to the mastery of Everlast’s marketers. No one knows the mass market for boxing gloves better than they do. Down in the secret Bronx lab, they’ve dissected the market, analysed each of its segments, and tested out gazillions of designs on it. The nice balance of sophisticated modernity and old-school simplicity is a direct appeal to the sensibilities of the the Hamlets of pugilism, who, in general, strongly feel the pull of both the latest flashy gimmicks and the severity of tradition.

Value

Th price of the standard Powerlocks is Everlast’s coup de grâce, the master stroke which fulfills the company’s marketing intentions by uniting the language, look, and feel of these gloves into a total product verging on what Venkatesh Rao has aptly labelled premium mediocrity. As premium mediocrities, or something close to that, the standard Powerlocks are not particularly cheap (A$90/US$50) for what they are, which is ultimately just another generic model of synthetic glove, many of which you can buy for lower prices on eBay and Amazon. 

But the price is on point for the Hamlets of pugilism. On the one hand, it’s high enough to reassure them that they won’t be embarrassed in the gym, that they’re more than mere boxfitters, that their shiny new pair of gloves won’t end up in landfill after one hard session on the heavy bag. On the other hand, it’s low enough to avoid the psychological pressure to get serious, the nagging feeling that you’re not really into it or up to it, that you’re pretending, that you might’ve spent too much cash on stuff for your hobby.

Overall

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If you were once a Hamlet of pugilism who one day made the existential leap into boxing as a serious life project, then for you the standard Powerlocks will be more akin to artwork than boxing gear. You will behold them as an ideal representation of past existential angst, just as many who have experienced and overcome a personal crisis behold Munch’s The Scream. And you will not buy them (again).

The standard Powerlocks mean something else for those currently suffering as Hamlets of pugilism. For them, the gloves are a highly efficacious palliative for existential angst in boxing. They’re a kind of sedative or analgesic for alleviating the uncertainty and fear of the abyss – but they’re not a cure. The choice must actually be made one day. Either you’ll make it consciously and deliberately yourself, or time will make it for you.

Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Gear, Reviews, 0 comments
What is Everlast’s Powerlock technology?

What is Everlast’s Powerlock technology?

9 December 2019

Although I believe that Everlast makes some truly bad gear, I’m not an inveterate Everlast hater. I like the Everlast logo. I like the faux old-school aesthetics of its marketing campaigns. I like the look or style of many of its gloves and other items of equipment and apparel, not least the awesome white trunks famously worn by Ali. And I would really, really, really like to get my hands on (or in) a pair of Everlast MXs.

Two things I can’t afford

I don’t have enough spare cash for that, however. So I recently bought myself a pair of 16oz synthetic Powerlock gloves. This popular model has been an object of curiosity to me for a long time. They’re good-looking gloves featuring Everlast’s vaunted “Powerlock technology”. They’re also much cheaper than the leather Powerlock Pros (roughly half the price in Australia), despite the apparently identical padding, structure, and stitching.

Two things I can afford

I’ve put in some serious rounds with my Powerlocks, but I’ll reserve my overall judgement on them for my upcoming review.

In the meantime, I’d like to raise something I’ve been wondering about ever since I first forced myself to sit through the torture of Fit2Box’s abominable YouTube review of the Powerlock Pros. In his typical gushing fashion, Fit2Box points to the Powerlock logo and tells us that the Powerlock technology is “actually one of the design features” of the gloves, while failing to provide one iota of explanation of its nature and function. Yet that technology is surely one of the things of most interest to potential buyers of Powerlock gloves.

Everlast is almost – almost – as impressed by its own technological marvel as Fit2Box. After developing it in a secret lab in the sewers of the Bronx, the company bestowed upon it the imposing title of “Powerlock” (which should only ever be uttered in a husky American bass-baritone) and implemented it in several costlier models of glove. It goes without saying that the Powerlock technology is now the “Choice of Champions”. Of course, champions choose it because they’re paid to do so, whereas we choose it because we hope it actually means something.

Entrance to Everlast’s top secret lab in the Bronx

Very slightly to its credit, Everlast provides a bit more information about the Powerlock technology than Fit2Box and most other shill-like online gear reviewers bother to provide to their hapless audiences. Everlast says that the training model

Features Powerlock technology, an ergonomic layered foam construction that guides your hand into a natural fist position.

Similarly, it says that the fight model

Features Powerlock technology, a defined anatomical foam construction that guides your hand into a natural fist position.

In both cases, Everlast goes on to add that

Compact glove design allows for superior fist closure providing a balance of speed, comfort, and protection while delivering a powerful punch.

As far as I can determine, no one in the whole of human history has publicly written or uttered anything more informative about the Powerlock technology than those three sentences. Everlast gives champions millions of dollars on which to base their “choice”. It gives us three meagre sentences (two of which mean pretty much the same thing).

But Everlast’s three sentences both say too little and too much.

They say too little because they’re substantially indistinguishable from the sentences used by almost every other gear company to market their training gloves nowadays. There’s nothing in them to suggest that the Powerlock technology is in any way special or different compared to the foam padding used in similar mid-range training gloves.

On the other hand, the sentences say too much because they’re really a kind of confession, the kind which issues from the mouths and keyboards of marketing hacks who know deep down that they have nothing of significance to say about a product. Put simply, not even Everlast itself knows what makes the Powerlock technology special or different.

The marketing bunkum of Everlast and the like is a black mental mist enveloping the boxing gear industry. You can get a good sense for just how dark the darkness really is by contrasting Everlast with one of the few candles.

So consider the Japanese company Winning. Its MS-series gloves are widely acknowledged to be (or to rank among) the best training gloves in the world. What does Winning say about them? Almost nothing, other than that they’re good quality leather gloves. No phony technical terms, no quasi-scientific mumbo jumbo, no empty slogans. The proof of the gloves is not in the words, but in the punching.

Two things I could afford once before

Are you able to enlighten the world about Everlast’s Powerlock technology? Share your wisdom in the comments below!

Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Analysis, Gear, 0 comments
The beginner gear fallacy

The beginner gear fallacy

30 November 2019

Are you a beginner wondering what gear you should buy? Or has a beginner ever asked you what gear he or she should buy?

If so, you’re probably familiar with the idea that there’s a special kind of gear for beginners: gear of significantly lower quality and cost than that used by more experienced or advanced boxers, but nevertheless adequate for the purposes of those just starting out in the sport.

You might, for example, have read about “the best gear for beginners” on one of the gazillions of review websites. You might have been told by someone at your gym that certain gear is “good enough for beginners”. You might even have given that advice to a beginner yourself.

The idea of beginner gear seems to have achieved the status of conventional wisdom across the Internet and even in many gyms. This is especially so with regard to training gloves. And, in fact, the idea of beginner gear does have a strong intuitive appeal.

For one thing, many beginners won’t go on to regularly train and compete in boxing. Given that boxing is one of the most physically and psychologically challenging of all sports, the likelihood of any particular beginner choosing to quit is (presumably) very high.

What’s more, beginners generally don’t train with the same frequency and intensity as more advanced boxers. Not only that, but they’re generally incapable of punching with the same degree of power. Advanced boxers subject their bodies (viz. hands) to a lot more punishment.

So beginners shouldn’t spend much money buying decent quality gloves and other training gear. Who could doubt that? It’s just common sense, right?

Well, maybe – but I doubt it, and very seriously so. In my opinion, it’s fallacious to claim that a boxer should buy low quality and low cost gear just because he or she is a beginner.

Why is it a fallacy?

Despite what conventional wisdom would suggest, the idea of beginner gear actually has no basis in the training needs of beginners.

A beginner is someone who has undergone little or no training in the sport. Absolute beginners have had no training whatsoever, while relative beginners have only had a bit. 

Boxing is a technically sophisticated sport. Beginners don’t pick it up in one or two training sessions. It typically takes years and years of training for someone to grasp and apply the techniques of boxing.

The technical sophistication of boxing means that beginners are much more likely than experienced boxers to commit technical errors during training. The likelihood of technical error is perhaps highest when beginners are doing solo bagwork or sparring under pressure.

Beginners also tend to be much more likely than experienced boxers to throw lots and lots of power punches. The insane megalomania of beginners can be readily observed in almost any gym. Like technical error, it’s probably most common during bagwork and sparring.

Indeed, technical error and power punching go hand in hand. This unholy alliance is the bane of the beginner boxer, as it dramatically increases the risk of injury. The majority of injuries during training result from punching hard with bad technique.

(I take it that that’s obvious enough in the case of bagwork. But it also applies to sparring. Beginners who throw lots and lots of wild power punches in sparring open themselves up to more counterpunches and therefore more injuries.)

A beginner making a fool of himself on the heavy bag

The foregoing considerations shouldn’t be controversial. Yet they militate very strongly against the idea of beginner gear. They suggest that, if anyone truly needs good quality gear, then beginners do.

To avoid misunderstanding, let me note that this doesn’t mean that more experienced or advanced boxers don’t need good quality gear as well. Of course they do. My point is just that they’re not the only ones. 

Everyone who trains in the sport of boxing needs good quality gear. I mean, just think about it. You don’t play boxing.

Do beginners need the best gear?

This stands in need of further elucidation. The fact that everyone, including beginners, needs good quality gear, does not mean that everyone needs the best gear.

In particular, beginners don’t need the best gear.

It would be absurd and counterproductive to suggest that beginners (of ordinary means) should splash out on brand new gear from Winning, Grant, DiNardo, or any of the other top-shelf, hyper-expensive brands.

If anyone really needs that gear – and I have my doubts whether anyone does – it’s high-level professional boxers and world-class amateurs.

Gear aficionados and other wannabes like myself like to say we really need the best gear, but if we’re open and honest with ourselves, I think we have to admit that that’s only a pretence to convince our ragged, starving families to allow us to buy it.

A gear aficionado’s wife and children

So although beginners need not spend up big on the best gear, they should be willing to spend a sizable sum on good quality gear. (They can always sell it easily enough on eBay or Gumtree if boxing turns out not to be for them.)

In general, however, the gear marketed to beginners by the companies is not good quality gear.

The idea of beginner gear is nowadays little/nothing more than a marketing device intended to sell masses of overpriced junk gear to masses of ignorant consumers. My use of the adjective “ignorant” here is non-pejorative; I only mean to designate normal consumers who, through lack of information, experience, or whatever, don’t know any better.

Of course, the paradigmatic examples of this kind of overpriced junk gear are the Everlast Pro Style training gloves. Nominally, they’re relatively cheap; but given their poor performance and poor durability, they’re ready for landfill the moment you buy them. They’re total rip-offs.

Even a cursory perusal of mainstream gear review sites should be sufficient to convince you that the idea of beginner gear is just another brainchild of marketing hacks. Those sites – which I’ve elsewhere called buckets of faeces – pump out review after review recommending truly appalling gear to beginners. At best, they paraphrase the marketing bunkum of the companies; at worst, they restate it verbatim. Their sole purpose, of course, is to earn commissions from affiliate marketing programs.

The idea of beginner gear enables the companies to cover off the largest segment of the gear market: the mass of ignorant consumers. It also enables the mainstream gear review sites to make money from misleading that same segment of the gear market.

What it does not enable is beginners to make good choices about the gear they need to properly partake in the sport of boxing.

What do you think of beginner gear? Let me know in the comments below!

Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Analysis, Gear, 0 comments
Lace N Loop upgrades metal eyelet

Lace N Loop upgrades metal eyelet

8 November 2019

My review of the Lace N Loop straps strongly recommended them for users of lace-up gloves. They’re great products. If you train in lace-up gloves, then whether you train solo or in a gym, you’ll get a lot of utility out of them.

I should know. I own six pairs of the things. And as I mentioned in my review, I’ve never had any significant issues with my Lace N Loops, other than the rust which developed on the metal eyelets of two out of the six pairs.

Now as you all know I’m pretty sceptical of many aspects of the world of boxing, not least the multitude of gear companies who pollute that world with their crappy products and accompanying marketing bunkum.

So today I was very pleasantly surprised indeed when Lace N Loop informed me that it’s become aware of the rust issue and already taken positive action to remedy it by upgrading the metal eyelet to stainless steel.

Even with my evil sardonicism, I must allow credit where credit’s due. The guys behind Lace N Loop are to be commended for this mature and sensible response to reasonable critical feedback from their customers.

It’s my understanding that the upgrade applies to all Lace N Loop straps produced as of late 2019.

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Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Gear, 0 comments
Review: Winning NG-2 Knuckle Guard

Review: Winning NG-2 Knuckle Guard

29 October 2019

My struggle with knuckle pain began shortly after my first ever training session on the heavy bag.

I’d trained with the frenzy typical of beginner boxers, utterly absorbed by the sensation of my own power, and utterly ignorant of technique. It was haymaker after haymaker for a full thirty minutes, all delivered in my A$20 pair of Rock bag gloves from Rebel Sports. And I shall never forget it. For the megalomania of working out on the heavy bag is perhaps the closest ordinary men can get to experiencing the mental lives of extraordinary men like Alexander, Caesar, and Napoleon.

But there’s no escaping reality, especially the reality of one’s mediocrity.

As the delusional intoxication of my megalomania waned, the real pain in the metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint of my left ring finger waxed. It felt as if the knuckle bones and cartilage had been crushed into paste, though of course they hadn’t. My knuckle was simply very sore and tender as a consequence of the blunt force trauma I’d repeatedly inflicted upon it over a period of thirty minutes. If you’ve ever had serious knuckle pain from punching the heavy bag, you’ll know what I mean.

I thought the knuckle pain would eventually go away with further “conditioning” of my hands. But although it did come and go, it never disappeared completely, not even as my gloves progressed from Rock to Punch, Hayabusa, Rival, Cleto Reyes, and finally Winning itself. It seemed as though knuckle pain was my destiny. In desperation, I invented crazy coping mechanisms. For example, I imagined that the degree of my knuckle pain was somehow indicative of my commitment to the sport.

And then one day I read about knuckle guards on the Internet, probably somewhere on the Sherdog gear forum. The knuckle guards in question were Winning NG-2s.

Description

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The Winning NG-2 knuckle guard is a very simple device. It comprises (apparently two layers of) gel padding encased by some kind of stretchy, elasticised fabric, with a strap or loop to hold the gel padding down.

One of my pairs of Winning NG-2s

The gel padding is intended to sit on top of the four MCP joints involved in striking. The rectangular pads are roughly 11cm long, 5.5cm wide, and 1cm high, which is presumably enough for most people’s knuckles.

To use the Winning NG-2 knuckle guard, you must insert your fingers through the loop until the lengthwise axis of the gel padding roughly aligns with the four MCP joints involved in striking.

Lengthwise axis aligned with MCP joints

You then apply your hand wraps. If you normally run your wraps between your fingers, you may find that doing so while wearing an NG-2 pushes it up and onto the back of your hand, thereby defeating the purpose of wearing it. In that case, it it’s easiest to forget about your fingers and simply run the wrap all the way around your hand, though it’s also possible to first make a “barrier” behind the NG-2 with the wrap and then run the wrap between your fingers.

You can simply run the wrap around your hand…
…or you can make a wrap barrier…
…and run the wrap run between your fingers.

Winning is famous in the world of boxing for its understated – even non-existent – marketing claims. The company doesn’t have much to say about the NG-2s, other than that they’re gel pads which provide protection for your knuckles in addition to that provided by your gloves. And, indeed, that’s what the NG-2s are, and that’s what they do.

Evaluation

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Performance

The NG-2s provide superb protection for the four MCP joints involved in striking. They are highly effective in both preventing the development of knuckle pain and alleviating pre-existing knuckle pain.

My own experience with the NG-2s was almost magical.

When I first got them, I made sure to give my battered and bruised knuckles a week or two to recover. Then I got back into hard training. For someone obsessed with boxing, it was like being born again.

The NG-2s had an incidental benefit for me as well. I’ve always preferred the fit of my gloves to be snug, but as I have small hands, this preference has often gone unsatisfied. Not now. The gel padding of the NG-2s makes my wrapped hands bulkier, thereby making the fit of my gloves snugger in general. I like it.

Of course, one man’s pleasure is another man’s pain. Many people with larger hands complain that the NG-2s make their wrapped hands too bulky for their gloves. More specifically, if you have big hands, the use of NG-2s may make it harder for you to put your gloves on, or even prevent you from doing so altogether. 

Another common complaint is that the NG-2s can be a bit fiddly to get right, especially compared to gel quick wraps like these:

Sting gel quick wraps

That may be true, but it’s a trivial issue in my opinion. It’s also outweighed by countervailing considerations. Gel quick wraps are notorious for lacking the support of traditional hand wraps. The NG-2s, on the other hand, are intended to complement traditional hand wraps, not replace them; so with NG-2s you don’t have to compromise support for your hand.

Durability

The gel padding inside the NG-2s seems pretty much indestructible to me. Of course, it’s not really, but I’ve had several pairs of NG-2s for years now and I have not detected any changes whatsoever in the effectiveness or structure of the gel padding. The stretch fabric covering the gel padding, on the other hand, does show some signs of wear and tear, but nothing beyond what one would reasonably expect from that kind of material.

Wear and tear on fabric loop

Aesthetics

The NG-2s are only available in baby blue and they tend to get slightly discoloured with regular use – none of which is really worth knowing, let alone worrying about. After all, the NG-2s are purely functional devices and you wear them under your wraps whenever you use them.

Value

Taking into account that they’re Winning products, the NG-2s are actually reasonably priced – if you know where to get them.

In the USA, things are straightforward enough. You can just buy the NG-2s from Amazon US. They only cost US$22, which is nothing relative to the utility they confer on those with knuckle pain. You can also get them cheaply on eBay US.

In Australia, as usual, you need to be a bit more circumspect in your dealings. MMA Fight Store, the leading rip-off merchant of the Australian boxing scene, sells the NG-2s for a whopping A$55! In this case as in most – but not all – others, I would advise against giving MMA Fight Store your custom. Instead, go to eBay and get NG-2s from Japan for only A$35 inclusive of shipping. You can also import them through Amazon Australia, but that’ll cost more than eBay with shipping.

Overall

| Amazon AU | eBay AU | Amazon US| eBay US |

If your hands are not big, and either you suffer from knuckle pain or you want to prevent it, then you should give serious consideration to buying the Winning NG-2 knuckle guard. It’s an effective, durable, and reasonably priced device for protecting your knuckles.

Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Gear, Reviews, 0 comments
DIY sparbar in action!

DIY sparbar in action!

21 October 2019

This is the sparbar I made myself as explained in my post on How to make your own sparbar.

It’s the Critical B&F (née ScepticalBoxer) DIY sparbar MkII with a tennis ball attached to the end of the bar for additional head protection. This was necessitated after the Critical B&F DIY sparbar MkI opened up a small cut over my left eye.

I actually had a video of that embarrassing incident, but it spontaneously vanished from my video editor. Weird.

Anyway, let me know what you think of this DIY sparbar (not my technique) in the comments!

Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Gear, 14 comments
The bell tolls for New Sporting

The bell tolls for New Sporting

17 October 2019

We are gathered here today to bid good riddance to New Sporting, which in only a few short years rose from obscurity to become the world’s paradigmatic dodgy gear company.

The Mexican outfit has seemingly done everything possible to enrage and alienate a significant chunk of its customers. From obnoxious service to bad quality products, New Sporting has done it.

I put together the first summary of the emerging pathology of New Sporting in a post from May 2019 which asked, Is New Sporting a legitimate business?

That got me banned from commenting on the New Sporting Facebook page. Many others have reported similar attempts by New Sporting to ignore or suppress negative feedback about its service and quality.

Since then, the public criticisms of New Sporting have only intensified. And now the company may be about to pay the ultimate price for its egregious behaviour.

For if there is any justice in this world, there would seem to be no way for New Sporting to recover from the devastating critiques inflicted upon it by the YouTubers csquared and Ghost.

csquared: the rational recantation

Carlos, aka csquared, is a well-known and respected Youtube reviewer of boxing gear. He gave a glowing review of some New Sporting gloves in 2018, which did much to raise awareness of the company’s products and drive its popularity in the boxing community.

Carlos posted the above review in late September 2019 after a disappointed customer of New Sporting’s sent him a more recent pair of the company’s gloves to check out. Suffice it to say here that Carlos has resolutely repudiated his earlier verdict on New Sporting.

Carlos’ recantation is entirely reasonable. The YouTube comments on it provide the most compelling evidence yet of the authoritarian derangement of the people behind New Sporting: their immediate response was to threaten Carlos with a defamation action.

Ghost: the nail in the coffin

Ghost is a mysterious figure, more myth than man – but whoever or whatever he is, he has proved himself to be a genius of the Spanish-speaking boxing community with this remarkable debut work of audiovisual critique (complete with good English subtitles).

Ghost sets out the nature and history of New Sporting’s problems with clarity, force, and credibility. He has given us ordinary consumers the definitive verdict on this disgraceful company. If you still buy New Sporting after watching Ghost’s critique, then either you didn’t pay attention or you’re an idiot.

The lesson of it all is simple: avoid buying New Sporting. If you want Mexican-style gloves, get Cleto Reyes or one of the other established Mexican brands. Or get a pair of these.

Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Analysis, Gear, 2 comments
Morgan joins the ranks of water bag fraudsters

Morgan joins the ranks of water bag fraudsters

15 October 2019

I’m yet to determine just what it is, but something about water bags really does drive boxing gear companies into an insane frenzy of greed.

I’ve already posted about the amazing marketing fraud being perpetrated on the boxing community by the Aqua Training Bag company in the USA. AquaBags are simply rebranded marine buoys you can buy elsewhere for roughly half the price.

In that same post, I identified GameBred Sports as the Australian counterpart. This little company sells rebranded marine buoys at massively inflated prices, generally around four times what you’d pay for a functionally identical marine buoy.

That was back in May 2019 and, as far as I could determine at the time, GameBred Sports was the only Australian gear company selling water bags downunder. The water bag greed virus had yet to infect the bigger, more established companies.

It’s my sad duty to report that we may now be on the brink of an epidemic.

Today I was wasting time on the Internet when a marketing algorithm suddenly proposed that I might be interested in a certain item of boxing equipment newly available on eBay: the Morgan H20 Water Bag. The marketing algorithm, I must admit, was quite right.

So I clicked the ad.

Morgan is a leading gear company in Australia. It’s gloves are mostly overpriced junk, but that’s the norm here (everywhere?). Some of its other products are ok. I’ve owned several Morgan heavy bags over the years, and they were decent quality products at reasonable prices.

But what my click of the ad quickly revealed is that this well-known Australian gear company has contracted a truly virulent case of the water bag virus. Morgan has the disgraceful distinction of being the second perpetrator of an AquaBag-style marketing fraud downunder.

Morgan H20 Water Bag 35kg (A$249)

| eBay AU |

Morgan H20 Water Bag 55kg (A$299)

| eBay AU |

Those things are nothing more nor less than marine buoys. You can buy functionally identical Polyform A-series marine buoys from marine supply stores for a fraction of the cost. More specifically, the Polyform A-2 (15”) costs A$55, the Polyform A-3 (19”) costs A$84, and the big Polyform A-4 (23”) costs A$97.

If you know of any other Australian gear companies infected by the water bag greed virus, let me know in the comments below!

Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Gear, 0 comments
How to make your own sparbar

How to make your own sparbar

12 October 2019

The standard items of equipment for training by yourself in the sport of boxing are the three bags: the heavy bag, the double-end bag, and the speed bag.

I love beating the shit out of the three bags as much as the next person. In particular, there’s nothing quite like a long session of twelve or so solid rounds on the heavy bag.

But however enjoyable it may to show the three bags who’s boss, they can be seriously detrimental for your development as a boxer if your training is overly reliant on them.

The problem, of course, is that the three bags don’t punch you back.

Everyone knows the feeling. You let fly on the bags and you feel like the young Ali. You’re popping away and nothing can touch you. You’re the champ, man!

And then you get into the ring for a spar. You let fly and you miss. Your partner is popping away and everything’s touching you. You’ve got work to do, man…

So it goes after too much bagwork. Not even the double-end bag really punches you back. It just flies around all over the place, sometimes reaching you on the rebound, sometimes not. It certainly doesn’t target you.

Enter the sparbar

The sparbar is a training device intended to at least partially overcome the aforementioned deficiency of the three bags.

In essence, every sparbar comprises a vertical stationary pole, or axis, with a horizontal rotating bar attached to it. The axis may be either wall-mounted or free-standing. You punch the bar and it rotates around the axis and comes right back at you – just like a punch! You then slip it or block it or punch it again to keep it rotating. Either one of those, or it hits you in the head.

A sparbar is obviously no substitute for genuine sparring with a human being. Your sparring partner doesn’t just stand there throwing hooks at your head for you to slip, block, and/or counter. Your sparring partner also throws jabs and uppercuts, moves around the ring, feints, mixes up the levels of attack, and so on. In other words, your sparring partner actually spars.

The sparbar does not. If you want a machine that does that, you’d better study robotics and get to work.

In the meantime, if you train a lot by yourself, I’m of the opinion that your training stands to benefit significantly from the addition of a sparbar. And even if you don’t train solo very often, you may still wish to consider using a sparbar to break up the monotony of traditional bagwork.

Buying a sparbar

So should you go out and buy one? Well, it depends.

Let’s take a look at your options.

The name “Sparbar” is actually a brand and company name that, like the brand name “AquaBag”, has entered boxing vernacular as the common name for a certain kind of training device. I shall use the lowercase “sparbar” to refer to the generic device and the uppercase “Sparbar” to refer to the company.

The inventors of the sparbar founded Sparbar in 2013. The company’s original model of sparbar was wall-mounted, but it soon introduced a free-standing model as well. Imitations of both models have since been released by other companies.

A genuine device from SparBar is a very, very, very expensive proposition.

Sparbar Compact Series (US$299)

| Amazon US |

Sparbar Pro Series (US$699)

| Amazon US |

If you’re an Australian and you want to buy a genuine Sparbar device, you have to order directly from Sparbar. Amazon US won’t ship them downunder.

Innolife and Title produce imitation wall-mounted and free-standing sparbars. Although they’re cheaper than genuine Sparbar devices, they’re still pretty expensive in my opinion.

Innolife Speed Trainer – Wall (US$200)

| Amazon US |

Innolife Speed Trainer ($US200)

| Amazon US |

Innolife Speed Trainer – Punch Ball (US$210)

| Amazon US |

Innolife Speed Trainer – Kick Pad (US$310)

| Amazon US |

Innolife Speed Trainer – Punch Bag (US$300)

| Amazon US |

Title Rapid Reflex (US$200)

| Amazon US |

Title Rapid Reflex Tri-Bag (US$300)

| Amazon US |

There’s no hope for Australians enticed by the lower costs of the Innolife and Title models. Amazon US won’t ship the Title models to Australia. And although it will ship the Innolife models downunder, the additional fees are prohibitive.

There are several other options for Australians, though. Morgan, SMAI, and Viking all sell imitation sparbars.

Morgan Rapid Rotating Bar (AU$289.95)

| eBay AU |

SMAI Boxing Bar (AU$299)

| SMAI |

Viking Spinning Bar (AU$300)

| eBay AU |

So both genuine and imitation sparbars are pretty expensive. What to do? My advice is as follows. 

If you’ve got cash to burn on a new sparbar but neither the time nor inclination to make one yourself, then buy one. You should probably buy a genuine Sparbar, as the imitations tend to be lower quality (or that’s what reviews suggest, anyway). 

If, like me, you don’t have cash to burn on a new sparbar but you’ve got the time and inclination to make one yourself, then this post is for you.

Making a sparbar

I should preface what’s to follow with the declaration that I have no intention of attacking or otherwise undermining the official Sparbar company. 

Sparbar is not a dodgy operation a la AquaBag. I’ve already exposed AquaBag for perpetrating a marketing fraud on the boxing community by selling rebranded marine buoys you can buy for a fraction of the price elsewhere. Sparbar is not doing anything like that.

Genuine Sparbar devices seem to be great products. But I’ve always thought that they’re really expensive considering what you get. After all, they’re hardly products of the technological frontier. So I decided to try and make a sparbar myself, and I think I succeeded.

Note that this guide focuses on the materials and construction of a free-standing sparbar. If you want a wall-mounted sparbar and you’ve got a bit of experience making things yourself, you shouldn’t have much difficulty figuring out how to attach the swivel mechanism to a bracket.

Materials

Swivel

This is the magic component of any sparbar. You need to find something that rotates 360 degrees and to which you can attach a bar (of some sort). I confess that at first I had no idea how to solve the swivel problem. But then one day I was wandering the aisles of a local hardware store when I noticed a swivel caster wheel. This mechanism, it turns out, is very well suited for the job once the wheel has been removed.

Swivel caster wheel

Not long after the serendipitous moment in the hardware store, I learnt of the existence of swivel plates, which seem to be the ideal mechanism.

Swivel plate

If I could’ve done so, I probably would’ve used a swivel plate for my sparbar. At the time of construction, though, I lived in a country with a paucity of hardware supplies and very slow international postage. So I just settled for a caster wheel. Whether you use a swivel plate or swivel caster, make sure it’s robust.

Bar

You need something to put the bar in sparbar. For most people wood will be the best substance to use for a bar. Wood is much easier to work with than metal, unless you know how to weld. I personally don’t know how to weld, and in any event I don’t have access to a welding machine. 

A good length is roughly 80cm (31.5”). I used a axe/pick/mattock handle which, incidentally, I noticed on the shelves of the hardware store very soon after noticing the swivel caster wheel. The handle happened to be ideal for me because, firstly, its fat end sits tightly in the swivel caster, and secondly, it is smoothly rounded with no sharp edges. It would be hard to attach to a swivel plate, though, owing to its cylindrical shape.

Axe/pick/mattock handle

A wooden beam would be the easiest thing to attach to a swivel plate owing to the flat surfaces. If you decide to use one for the bar, make sure that it’s not too big and heavy, and take care to file and sand away the sharp edges first. Even with foam or cloth around them, they could pose a risk of injury.

Post

The swivel mechanism has got to be attached to something solid. I used a big heavy fence post with end dimensions of roughly 11.5cm x 11.5cm (4.5” x 4.5”). The end of the post must have ample space for firmly attaching the swivel mechanism. In particular, you don’t want the screws to be too close to the sides of the post.

End of a post

You should be able to buy a post or beam from your local hardware store or timbre dealer. The ideal length of the post will be such that, once the swivel and bar are attached to it, the bar hits you on the side of your chin. Of course, that will be a function of your own height and typical boxing stance. It’s obviously better to overestimate the required length than underestimate it, as overestimation will allow you to cut the post down to size if necessary.

Long post for cutting down to size

If you want to make a wall-mounted sparbar, then you’ll have to make or buy a bracket on which you can attach the swivel mechanism. 

Tyre

You need a base to keep the post vertical and stationary. As with free-standing heavy bags, the free-standing sparbars made by Sparbar and other companies rely on plastic containers you must fill with sand or water. I used old car tyre filled with concrete and it works perfectly. You should be able to pick up an old car tyre for nothing from you local garbage dump. 

FREE!

Do not use a huge truck or tractor tyre! To be sure, they’re solid as rocks. But if you use one for the base, its massive circumference could seriously diminish the utility of your sparbar by obstructing your footwork. Furthermore, you almost certainly won’t be able to move a truck or tractor tyre after you’ve filled it with concrete.

Cement

I used cement mixed with some sand and stone I already had lying around in my backyard from another project. Most people, however, will be best served by one or two bags of cement pre-mixed with sand and stone. That’s because you only need to add water and hey presto!

Get this and do what it says

I probably would’ve used pre-mixed cement if I could’ve; but at the time of construction I lived in a country with limited hardware supplies and pre-mixed cement wasn’t available in any of my local hardware stores.

Plastic sheeting

You don’t want the wet concrete inside the tyre to damage or stick to the surface on which you construct your sparbar. I put several large household garbage bags underneath the car tyre before filling it with concrete.

Black plastic garbage bags

I’m glad to report that they were sufficiently robust to protect the surface on which I constructed my sparbar. I suppose you could use a tarp or something like that, but if you do make sure it’s a worn-out one. I wouldn’t want to risk ruining a good tarp with an inadvertent shovel strike just for the sake of this project.

Torque reinforcements

I doubt whether it’s necessary to reinforce the post against torque. However, given that I have pretty much no understanding of even the most elementary principles of civil engineering, I generally prefer to over-engineer than under-engineer my projects. Over-engineering reduces the likelihood I’ll need to re-do them. For this project, I used two metal brackets I found in my shed.

Bracket with stay

I think you could obtain similar reinforcement against torque by cheaper and simpler means, such as half-embedding large nails or screws in the lower sides of the post. Or just not worry about it.

Padding

Even if you own 20oz Winnings, you’ll need padding on the bar to protect your hands (and your awesome gloves). Oh, and there’s also the small matter of your cranium. A foam tube over the bar, or a foam sheet wrapped around it, would probably be ideal. I decided to use four fluffy tea towels because they were the most suitable things I could find at the time.

Four stylish tea towels

I attached the tea towels to the bar with layer upon layer of polyethylene duct tape, which is pretty soft itself and therefore adds even more padding.

Tennis ball

The end of the bar is harzardous, especially if it has edges. Even if your bar is otherwise well-padded, the edges on its end might still pose a risk. I learnt that lesson the hard way.

Embarrassingly enough, my sparbar caught me above my left eye and opened up a small cut owing to the inadequately covered edges on the end of the bar. Even though – as this incident attests – I’m a bit stupid, I did eventually think of the obvious solution. You just need a tennis ball.

Construction

I constructed my free-standing sparbar alone and in accordance with the following 10-step procedure. For all I know there may well be much better methods of construction for this project. I’m just reporting how I did things because, well, it’s how I did things and it worked.

I was doubtful whether it would work, though, and I didn’t take regular photos of my progress through the 10-step procedure presented here. Given that I run this blog, that was weird and stupid. But even though many of my photos are ex post facto, they still give you a pretty good idea about how I went about constructing my sparbar.

1 – Cut the post down to the appropriate length. It should come up to roughly the middle or upper-middle of your neck, depending on the shape and size of the swivel mechanism. You want the bar to rotate on the swivel mechanism so it hits you on the side of your chin.

See? I’m not just making this stuff up

2 – Attach the swivel mechanism to the top of the post with screws. Pre-drill screw holes to prevent the screws from causing structurally deleterious cracks or splits in the wood.

Swivel caster screwed firmly down
Screws embedded far from edges

3 – Attach the torque reinforcements (if any) to the lower sides of the post. Ensure they’re low enough that they’ll end up mostly if not entirely submerged in concrete.

Brackets for torque reinforcement

4 – Set down plastic sheeting (e.g. garbage bags), lay the tyre down on it, and stand the post in the centre of the tyre. The post should remain upright without any support.

5 – Prepare the concrete in a large bucket or on plastic sheeting. Thoroughly mix everything together as instructed by the cement manufacturer. Use a shovel for a bit of a workout. Cement mixers are for wimps.

A fine bag of cement

6 – Shovel the concrete into the tyre. Spread it around evenly as you go. Fill the tyre right up to the top, otherwise the base may end up too weak and/or too light. And you want to avoid creating attractive lodgings for spiders, vermin, and other unwelcome characters.

Strong and heavy base

7 – Allow the concrete to cure for several hours or even overnight like I did. The base should be pretty solid before you move on to the next step, as you don’t want to accidentally tilt the post in the concrete.

8 – Attach the bar to the swivel mechanism. The best way to do that will depend on the structure of the swivel mechanism and the structure of the bar. You may need to drill one or more holes in the bar for fasteners. I had to drill a big hole for a bolt in the fat end of the axe/pick/mattock handle.

Bolt hole in bar
Bar mounted on swivel mechanism
Extra support to help maintain bar at desired height

9 – Attach the tennis ball and padding on the end of the bar where you’ll punch it. Ensure you cover a section at least 25cm (10”) in length. Use layered polyethylene duct tape to secure the ball and padding because it’ll provide even more protection.

Tennis ball covering end of bar
Tea towels used as padding
Tennis ball and padding attached with duct tape

10 – Wipe the sweat from your brow and admire the product of your own handiwork! You should avoid enthusiastically testing it out with bare knuckles. Trust me. I told you I was a bit stupid.

Ready to rumble!

Have you considered making your own sparbar? Or have you actually made one? Let me know about your ideas and experiences in the comments below!

Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Gear, 32 comments
Review: Lace N Loop Glove Enhancing System

Review: Lace N Loop Glove Enhancing System

11 August 2019

The two basic systems of glove closure are the lace-up system and the velcro system.

Professional boxers seem to prefer lace-up gloves for training, and they always fight in them, probably owing to the requirements of sanctioning bodies. Gear aficionados tell us that the dominance of the lace-up system in pro boxing ultimately stems from the fact that lace-up gloves provide superior fit and support. The laces run from the forearm, over the wrist, all the way to the lower or mid palm, and you can tie them as loose or tight as you like. The downside, of course, is that tying laces is massively inconvenient, especially if you’re training alone or you don’t like the idea of asking the guys at your gym for assistance.

Velcro gloves, on the other hand, are widely used by almost everyone else in the world of boxing, even at the highest levels of amateur competition. According to the gear aficionados, velcro gloves provide inferior fit and support because of the narrowness of their straps, which only wrap around the wrist. You can pull the straps as tight or as loose as you like, but they do not disperse support as widely or evenly as laces do. The velcro system is really convenient, however, as even the gear aficionados must and do acknowledge. You can attach and detach the straps without any assistance in seconds.

I currently own five high-end pairs of lace-up training gloves: Cleto Reyes, Rival, and Topboxer, as well as two pairs of Winning. Although, like most amateur boxers, I’ve previously trained in many different models of velcro gloves, nowadays I only train in lace-ups. But I confess I don’t really know whether, in general, lace-up gloves actually do provide better fit and support than velcro gloves.

Indeed, if what the gear aficionados mean by “support” is “wrist support”, then I’d be inclined to say that the most supportive gloves I’ve ever used are Hayabusa Tokushus/T3s with dual velcro straps (“Dual-X”) and quad-splint design (“Fusion Splinting”). Don’t get me wrong: I really dislike Hayabusa Tokushus/T3s, but that’s for reasons other than their extraordinary support of the wrist.

Why then do I only train in lace-up gloves?

That question calls for a bit of honest introspection. First of all, I’ve read so many times that the lace-up system is better than the velcro system, that I probably now believe it, or at least take it for granted. The superiority of the lace-up system is just one of those things that everyone who knows about gloves “knows”. What’s more, the aesthetic of old-school traditional boxing strongly appeals to me, and there’s nothing more redolent of that than a pair of lace-up gloves (ideally an old, filthy, worn-out pair of leather ones hanging from a hook on the wall of a gym).

So, in short, I train in lace-up gloves because I can’t think for myself and I think they look cool.

I use lace-up gloves partly because of cool photos like that

But there’s something else I haven’t mentioned. And it’s absolutely crucial. My lack of independent thought and my aesthetic preferences were not sufficient, on their own, to get me to give up velcro in favour of laces. More specifically, since I often train alone, I couldn’t seriously entertain the prospect of training with lace-up gloves in the absence of a practical solution to the aforementioned and very serious problem of inconvenience. The difference-maker was my discovery of the Lace N Loop Glove Enhancing System.

Description

| eBay AU | Amazon US | eBay US |

The somewhat extravagant name “Lace N Loop Glove Enhancing System” belies the simplicity of the product. Lace N Loops are just synthetic straps with velcro on them. They’re functionally divided into three sections.

A pair of fully open Lace N Loops

The longest section, accounting for slightly more than half the strap, is made of a sturdy inelastic material with a strip of velcro loops sewn on the topside and a reinforced hole in the end. You attach the strap to your glove by first threading the laces through this metal eyelet and then tying a knot in them.

The short mid-section is elasticised, allowing you to close the strap as tightly or loosely as you like.

The third section is used for grasping, pulling, and wrapping the strap. It’s made of a sturdy inelastic material with a strip of velcro hooks sewn on the underside. There’s a little tab at the end of this section which, I think, is meant to facilitate the process of grasping, pulling, and wrapping.

And that’s pretty much it.

The way you use a Lace N Loop strap is by grasping the unattached end, pulling on it to tighten your glove’s lace-up closure mechanism, then wrapping the laces and eventually the strap itself around the cuff of your glove. Finally, you secure the strap by way of the velcro strips.

This process is best illustrated by Lace N Loop’s own infographic:

How to use a Lace N Loop

Lace N Loop tells us that its straps are “designed enable a lace-up boxing glove wearer to lace up their own gloves without help from another person.” It adds that they’re “designed to utilize all the benefits of a lace-up glove, without changing the fit, performance, or function.”

Evaluation

| eBay AU | Amazon US | eBay US |

Performance

For the most part, Lace N Loops do what they’re designed to do, and they do it well.

They enable you to put on and close up your lace-up gloves without the help of another person. And they seem to enable that while preserving the (allegedly) superior fit and support of lace-up gloves. This, I suppose, makes them much better than standard converters which, owing to certain structural factors, notoriously fail to preserve those superior qualities. So the company’s claims about its straps are not fantasies. This is a welcome respite from the torrents of marketing bunkum dumped on us everyday by most other gear companies.

Lace N Loops, however, do not entirely overcome the problem of inconvenience. Initially they can be very awkward to use indeed. One reason is that the velcro easily sticks to the laces. This necessitates tearing the velcro from the laces, which can damage the latter especially if you do it frequently. Another, more significant, reason for the initial awkwardness is that the process of grasping, pulling, and wrapping Lace N Loops around the cuffs of your gloves is much more difficult for the second strap than the first one.

The first glove is easy-peasy. This is because you can start with loose criss-cross laces and you always have an ungloved fingers at your disposal. The loose criss-cross laces allow smooth insertion of your hand in the glove. You can then adjust the criss-cross laces as you like with your ungloved fingers. This means that when you finally pull the Lace N Loop strap and wrap it around the cuff, you’re very well-positioned to achieve optimal or near-optimal closure of the glove’s lace-up mechanism. No problems here.

The second glove, however, presents something of a dilemma. If you start with sufficiently loose criss-cross laces for smooth hand insertion, you won’t be able to adjust them as you like with ungloved fingers. This is problematic because pulling on the Lace N Loop strap generally only tightens the lowest criss-cross laces over the forearm, not up at the wrist and palm, thereby making optimal closure of the lace-up system impossible. But if you start with tight criss-cross laces, insertion of your hand rapidly degenerates into a clumsy struggle, and you may not be able to insert it at all.

Of course, practice goes a long way toward alleviating the severity of such inconveniences. But it never does away with them entirely. Even now, after two years of using Lace N Loops on my training gloves, I not uncommonly find myself either tugging on overly loose criss-cross laces with my bare teeth, or struggling to shove my hand past overly tight ones.

Durability

A sad fact about me is that I own six – that’s right, six – pairs of Lace N Loops, one for each of my five pairs of lace-up gloves, as well as a spare set just in case I spot yet another pair of awesome lace-up gloves at a bargain price on eBay or Gumtree. (The idea here being that I won’t have to wait until I get Lace N Loops before I give the hoped-for awesome cheap lace-ups a whirl on the heavy bag; I’ll be ready to rock’n’roll straight away.)

My long-standing collection of these useful little straps, though a bit weird in itself, does at least afford me rare insight into how well this product tends to hold up over extended use. In particular, I’m able to base my judgement on more than just one sample. Most of my Lace N Loops have in fact held up very well, exhibiting no defects beyond reasonable wear and tear. I’d even go so far as to say that functionally they’re the exactly same as they were on the first day I got them. That includes the elastic mid-section.

But two pairs of my Lace N Loops have not held up so well. They began developing rust on their metal eyelets after only a few months of use. Not only is the rust unsightly, it is also abrasive, thereby threatening to mark, scratch, or even cut into the cuffs when these straps are pulled tightly against them.

Rust on the metal eyelet of an old model, an issue Lace N Loop has apparently resolved on the new model

The best explanation of this rust is that it was caused by sweat. Of course, if you’re going to sweat doing any sport, you’re going to sweat doing boxing – and gear companies like Lace N Loop should take that into account when selecting the materials from which their products are to be made.

NB: In late 2019, several months after this review was first posted, Lace N Loop informed me that it was aware of the rust issue and had already taken positive action to remedy it by upgrading the metal eyelet to stainless steel. This is a great credit to the guys behind Lace N Loop, and sets it apart from the vast bulk of gear companies who will stop at nothing to pollute the world of boxing with their crappy products and accompanying marketing bunkum. As I undertand things, the upgrade applies to all Lace N Loop straps produced as of late 2019.

Aesthetics

Lace N Loops are available in several simple and inoffensive colour schemes, each one of which is dominated by either black or white. The Lace N Loop logo, which features prominently on the largest section of the straps, is not a paragon of the art of graphic design; but it’s hardly obnoxious either.

So you shouldn’t have any difficulty selecting a pair of Lace N Loops to go at least tolerably well with your gloves. And if you do find it difficult, well, maybe your priorities have gone awry and you put too much emphasis on aesthetics. These things aren’t meant to be fashion accessories.

Value

Lace N Loops are good value given their utility.

If you live in the United States, Lace N Loops will cost slightly more than standard converters, such as those offered by Title and Ring-To-Cage. Lace N Loops go for US$20-$25, depending on the colour scheme, whereas you can get R2C’s converters for US$15-$20 and Title’s converters for only US$10 on Amazon. In this regard, however, it’s important to keep in mind that you’re comparing apples and oranges (as I suggested above under Performance).

In Australia, there aren’t really any alternatives to Lace N Loops, unless you’re willing to order something from Amazon US. So it’s fortunate you can buy Lace N Loops domestically for only A$35 inclusive of postage from MMA Fight Store on eBay. I’ve done that, and I’ve also bought them directly from Lace N Loop’s US-based online store. As always, you should make your own decision on the basis of the exchange rate and your delivery-patience threshold.

Overall

| eBay AU | Amazon US | eBay US |

I strongly recommend Lace N Loops to anyone who, like me, prefers to use lace-up gloves for training over velcro ones (even if, like me, your justification for that preference is utterly pathetic). Lace N Loops are not a panacea for the inconvenience of training with lace-up gloves. They do, however, significantly mitigate that inconvenience. If you understand their quirks and limitations, Lace N Loops won’t disappoint you and you’ll get a lot of utility out of them.

Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Gear, Reviews, 0 comments