I can't believe noone here remembers what boxing was like before the standing 8 count.
It most certainly protects fighters from brain damage. In the early days, a fighter would get knocked down, and as he's getting up, still keeled over at the waist, he gets hit with a bomb that he didnt see. Falls over again, the ref hops in.. until his two feet are on the ground, just intime to take another bomb to the head he didnt see.
A HUGE part of boxing is a fighter's ability to react well to being put on his ass. Countless fights have been won by the man rising off the canvas.
Small gloves definitely make a striking match more boring, both figthers are more hesitant to unload and in the old days there would be a lot of standing and waiting for someone to open up, just to get countered. A lot of this hesitation can be seen in an MMA fight.
The round time of 3 minutes is just fine for boxing. The only reason MMA fights have 5 rounds is because a good 4 minutes of that can be on the ground holding, trying to gain the advantage. That in some fights may not come, like Shamrock vs Gracie.
Boxing is secure in its position for one main reason. There is no other sport where ebenflow action can be drawn out and seen so clearly over the course of 12 rounds, during which the person loosing could comeback with a knockout to win in the end. It doesnt always happen, maybe not even often, but when it does, nobody will eat pop corn faster as they watch with awe, and amazement in the sacrifice of flesh given to them.
Another note, the inertia of the head is very much the same whether it be a glove of 8-10oz, or 6oz. Speed of the punch, due to lighter gloves will have some effect on this. But the main difference these gloves will have is on the flesh itself, the bigger the glove the less cuts/welts/broken noses, but not necessarily less knockouts. (up to 10oz anyway)
The size of gloves they use is perfect. Just large enough to not have every fight end in a first round knockout. As a whole boxers do hit harder, if only because they spend 100% of the time working on doing so. Whereas MMA fighters have 90% of other things to work on. *extremely loose generalization*