Top King Air sparring gloves
Because my wife is awesome, she picked me up a new pair of sparring gloves for our anniversary due to my sweat eating the outside of the last ones. Here's my thoughts so far.
FLEXIBILITY/MOBILITY, 9- Top King uses some kind of dark sorcery for making protective gear that feels like you've got nothing on at all. I got these in 16oz, 4 heavier than my normal bag/padwork gloves, and there isn't any noticeable difference in weight.
EASE OF USE, 8- They come in lace-up or velcro. I went with the velcro closure, which is a leather strap instead of the elastic you see on a lot of gloves, so you don't have to worry about it losing its stretch over time. The velcro is freaking strong, I actually need to take a second to get the gloves off after sparring is done. It's a bit of an annoyance when you just want to get some air on your hands, but I'll take that any day over the kind that falls apart after 3 months. Another thing of note is the mesh palms, which are supposed to improve ventilation. To be honest, I haven't really noticed much change there while I'm using them, but it DOES seem to help them smell less like ass after a hard session, which is kind of a feature in itself. One thing to watch for is that people with big hands might have some trouble with these gloves. The space inside is pretty tight on me, and I don't really have huge paws.
MATERIAL/PRODUCTION QUALITY, 9- The usual top-notch stuff I've seen from other Top King gear. The leather is pretty high quality, and if you're anything like me, you'll sit there breathing in the new-glove-smell for a few minutes after opening the package. My only concern is how well the mesh will hold up over time.
PROTECTION, 9- As I mentioned earlier, these gloves fit pretty tight, and as someone who's broken both wrists before and needs the support, that's just fine by me. The padding is nice and solid, which your hands will appreciate. It's also not hard as a rock, which your partners will appreciate. One thing you might notice in the picture is the slightly extended cuff on the outside half, which gives a little bit of extra wrist support.
They tend to run from 70 to 85 dollars, depending on where you find them. So far I've been pretty satisfied with these, and they're also pretty slick-looking, which is always nice. Just remember that you might want to look elsewhere if you've got big hands. I'd recommend these gloves to anybody who wants a dedicated pair of sparring gloves and doesn't want to drop 3 digits on Fairtex.
UPDATE- after using these for a year, or so, they're still holding up nicely, but I've noticed some bad habits I've developed due to the size of these things. Nobody seems to care what size glove they spar with here in Thailand, so I end up going with a pair of 12s that I picked up while I was here, and my guard is most definitely not as tight as it should be. The sheer bulk of the Top Kings makes it too easy to block punches almost by accident.