My honest and detailed review after messing with (2) pairs of TopBoxer gloves for 1 year.
- I ordered a 16oz custom pair with super cushion foam for maximum protection and sparring softness.
- And also a 14oz stock pair just for reviewing purposes. I told him to throw in any stock pair; I didn’t care what it was.
I’ll go over everything I saw, and the details I noticed.
Background on Muhammad Irfan of TopBoxer (from Pakistan)
Muhammad is a guy I heard of only from the magic of the internet.
I’ve never seen his gloves used anywhere. Never saw anything like his logo. He was a brand new boxing gear manufacturer starting around 2016 (that’s my guess). I think what really got me intrigued was that he was a Pakistan glove manufacturer with a cult-like following.
If you don’t already know, I hate Pakistan gloves. Hate them all. (Nowadays, I’ve softened that stance a little but only for very few companies.) But when I see Pakistan companies proudly worn by pro fighters and amateurs and not a single bad thing is ever sad…you get curious.
I heard about Muhammad on the Sherdog forums where tons of random people were raving about his gloves. And I usually don’t care about raving reviews unless people are actually comparing it to other quality brands (that I know), which some did. The other thing I noticed was that he could do custom gloves and his prices were very reasonable. That’s fine by me!
If he’s gonna price himself low and do many extra things that other manufacturers can’t, I’m not gonna knock a dude even if it does turn out to be junk. It’s when I see new brands toting themselves as “best gloves ever invented” with premium pricing and generic designs that I get angry.
Finally talking with Muhammad
When I reached out to him on Facebook in 2017, he was really excited to make custom gloves for me. A lot of generosity was offered but I refused a bit. His prices were already low enough, like geez…and these are custom-made gloves that HE makes…not mass-produced. I do respect artists. We talked a lot about the science of making gloves, different foam and padding combinations available. Then came the fun stuff like colors, materials (I wanted croc leather), name embroidery. No matter what concern I had in mind, he already had multiple ways to satisfy it.
I (metaphorically) walked away from that Facebook chat very impressed. Not with his gloves but who he was as a person. Listen when I tell you this…I pay very close attention when I speak with manufacturers about boxing gloves. I try to get a sense of who they are and where they fit into their glove-making operations.
Mainly, I see glove company people in 3 categories:
- CRAFTSMAN – they love to talk gloves.
- BUSINESSMAN – they love to talk money.
- MARKETER – they love to talk features.
Obviously, people love to talk about where they spend their time. Marketers are always trying to position their gloves. This feature, that feature, this new thing, that benefit, top 3 advantages, blah blah blah. Business people love to talk money and numbers…they’re always like, “Let’s make a deal, I give you 100 pairs for $17 each. I pay you $200 for review. I give you free shipping!”
But the craftsman? The craftsman loves to talk about his work. Why he chose this material. Why he put this here, why he put that there. How he discovered this trick, etc. And almost every single time I talk a real craftsman, they spill the secrets to all their craft. They’re so excited to share their wonderment for what they know and what they’ve created. These are things that businessmen and marketers can never talk about because they know nothing about it and have nothing to say.
I loved that for only a hundred dollars (USD cost at the time), I could speak to the actual maker of my gloves. You have no idea how incredible that is. Unheard of!
At this point, I was actually terrified of his gloves:
I was terrified that (what if) I didn’t like his gloves.
It would be so painful for me to criticize his work publicly on my website. I know some people think I’m harsh or really mean when I scrutinize boxing gloves but believe me I don’t like to be mean. I know it can affect some people’s businesses and I know it hurt the feelings of the people who designed them or made them. Most of all, it’s a slap in the face if you dis someone who’s been doing something for a very long time which you know nothing about. I’m not even a glovemaker so for me to judge does feel a bit wrong to some degree.
But I do it because I’m passionate about the sport. Glove quality is a matter hand safety to me (which I suffered from). I also hate when big companies exploit the sport for financial gain and nothing else. And I hate when big companies make the money that much smaller businesses deserve.
Leading the “custom gloves” trend
I definitely feel TopBoxer is one the companies most responsible for igniting this “custom gloves” trend you see nowadays. Sure, the very first were the Mexican glove companies…but that experience is very different. Those manufacturers usually didn’t speak English. You had to order through a middle-man and pray that they understood your request and will make it perfect (and that all materials needed won’t be on back-order). Usually, you communicate in images. A picture of what you want. There’s no back-and-forth chatting.
You would think TopBoxer would have had so many Pakistan copycats by now (since their glove-making culture is a whole lot of that) but there haven’t been any solid ones. There are other companies popping up but they don’t have a face and they don’t feel like the same one-man super personal experience you get with Muhammad. Also too, their gloves don’t have the same unique look as his…they have a more generic look and with generic options.
The order of 2019
Because 2017 never happened.
- He asked me what I was going to use them for. (Bagwork or sparring, or both.)
- What kind of padding I wanted. (Soft, hard, etc.)
- Hand measurements. (Length, width, wrist, etc.) You would have thought he was making a custom suit for my hand.
- What designs, colors, materials, custom embroidery or labeling.
After chatting back-and-forth exchanging excitement and pleasantries, I never ordered. I told my girlfriend (at the time) that I was excited to try these new boxing gloves made with croc leather and she got angry at me. Tried to tell me about animal abuse and how they farm and kill innocent crocodiles and what not. And then she said, “Johnny, you’re better than that.” And oooooh, that got me good. I respect her a lot and her words matter to me…so I never ordered.
But then we broke up…
So in 2019, I ordered my gloves but in CROC-PRINT leather (not real crocodile!)
I’m starting to believe in the vegan movement too and not hurting animals and all that. This was my compromise. And I would even say that I hope they find a better material in the future that isn’t made out of animal skin. Yes, I know leather is beautiful but we’re freaken humans…we’ve got scientists and doctors. We’ve invented so much shit. We put people on the moon. Surely, we can find a better boxing glove material that doesn’t have to come from dead animals.
Ok, enough of my hypocritical PETA speech.
My package arrived from Pakistan…1 pair of custom 16oz training gloves and 1 pair of stock 14oz training gloves. *in my fight announcer voice* LET THE REVIEWS BEGIN!
TopBoxer gloves quality and construction
Custom 16oz boxing training gloves
- Soft cushion foam, for maximum hand protection and sparring softness (can be used on the bag, too)
- Black & gold colors
- Croc-print leather (basically cow leather but with croc pattern printed on it)
- Custom-fitted to my hand measurements
Stock 14oz boxing training gloves
- Medium density foam, about a 6-7. (Better for bagwork but can be worn down to be soft enough for for sparring.)
- White, red, and blue Manny Pacquiao design.
- Regular leather.
- Not custom-made. These are stock gloves.
- Velcro (hook & loop)
Leather feels and smells like Pakistan leather. It’s soft and plastic-ey look, but not the bad kind. It’s also hard for me to see because the metallic gold color covered up the leather surface. The stock gloves were much easier for me to judge his leather and I’d say they are fine, good enough and only time will tell if they tear or not.
The piping is very nice. I think they look even nicer on the stock gloves than the custom ones. All I care is that he uses rolled leather piping, which he does.
The stitching is very good. Very tight double-stitching obviously done by machine and not by hand. There’s no way someone stitching by hand will do them so close together. Very clean, very neat stitching, no ends sticking out or fraying anywhere. The stitching is still perfect after 100-200 rounds on the custom gloves and just a few on the stock gloves. Great job.
The custom gloves come with extra stitching and very unique since I never seen it in other gloves. You can see it on along the outside edge of your forearm down to where your pinky curls into a fist. Also on the inside edge of your forearm up to the where your thumb connects to your wrist. Then further up where your index finger curls into a fist. I feel the extra stitching adds more structural support and also intended for extra durability. I appreciate the attention to detail and that he has a little bit of his own take on glove stitching.
The custom gloves have a TON of padding. It looks AND feels like a big mushy pillow all the way around. Like the biggest most pillow-ey gloves ever. I think even big enough for some people to complain about it but for me it’s perfect. It’s a bit like when kids buy those “Hulk hands” toys. When I wear them, people at the gym ask me how much they weigh (thinking they’re like 20oz). In reality, the gloves feel like 16oz and a very light 16oz at that. Then again, maybe I’m just used to heavier Mexican gloves.
The custom gloves have a very interesting shape. Along the the blade edge of the hand/forearm, but on the palm-side of the glove is a thin padding strip. It’s very different from any other gloves I seen. Why he put that there, I think it’s his way of making these gloves MMA-compatible for blocking kicks. And I like that he’s doing something different.
Anyway, my custom gloves were very puffy. I’m sure you could ask for different foam and shape, too. After all, these are custom! You can specify whatever you want. I love mine as is but I’m sure some people might prefer different.
The padding on the stock gloves is very standard. A medium or slightly above medium density that I think is better suited for bagwork. The palm-side of the wrist area have 2 thick bars (one on top, one on bottom) that’s unique to him. I never seen from any other manufacturer. You feel like they add extra structural support for the wrist.
Because the custom gloves were too big and puffy, you can’t actually see it’s structural shape as well as you can on the smaller stock gloves. The stock gloves have less padding and very streamlined, allowing me to see its shape better. I noticed a very interesting ergonomic ridge on the back of the index finger running down to the wrist. This is impressive because your hand feels much more natural inside the glove. The only other manufacturer I know to have this ridge is Di Nardo’s…which costs like 10 times more.
In contrast, most other gloves have a very flat back. Like your hand is being stuck to a tennis racket, and that’s what give it’s a boxy feel. Look at pictures of most Mexican gloves and you’ll see what I mean. Stiff boxy flat back that doesn’t exactly contour to your hands. Maybe you like the stiffness for “support”, others may like a more streamlined feel for the “ergonomics”.
Another interesting point to make is the thumb. This is a fun area for me because every glove manufacturer tends to make their thumb differently. How they shape it, how they fold the leather to prevent ugly wrinkles. I think the most comfortable for me is the skinnier thumb but I think it’s hard to make that look good so many manufacturers just do a big floppy thumb so the leather can wrap easily over the edge. (Just think of it like gift-wrapping a shoebox vs a shoe. The box makes it easy to fold the wrapping over.)
The stock gloves have a skinny sharp tapered thumb. Very modern and stylish IMO. The custom gloves have a sharp hook at the edge…like an eagle claw. From the outside, it looks funny but inside is still very comfy! What I’m most amused is by how the eagle claw was made. It looks unique but actually is pretty much a typical old-school curved Mexican thumb like on Necalli gloves. Those of you who hate curved thumbs and prefer a straight thumb, I’m sorry but you’ll have to look elsewhere.
And of course after all that, we still care how it feels!
Do all these little details matter when you’re in the ring going 100mph and trying to dodge punches? No, I don’t think you will under all that adrenaline. But I think we can all appreciate a product that has a lot of conscious thought behind it.
This is probably the only flawed part and even then, not so much. The custom gloves feel too wide overall. I feel like a little kid wearing my dad’s gloves. If I pull the laces totally tight, it helps a lot but there’s a lot of space in there for sure. More than any other glove. Does this mean my hand is floating in open space? No. Does this extra space affect the hand protection in anyway? Nope. Is it uncomfortable in any way in actual use? Not at all. I spar and hit the bags just fine. Nothing annoying. I don’t mind it at all but yes, it is too big. It’s kinda weird that they felt too wide even after all the custom hand measurements.
The stock gloves fit pretty damn perfect. Good size, fit, everything. I think anybody’s hand would feel perfect in there. If I had to guess…I feel his glove shape is made for a specific type of padding. The moment he switches the padding to something totally custom, the shape needs to be adjusted or else it’ll fit and feel differently.
Closure (laces and velcro)
The laces seem ok. Mine started getting ugly after 20-30 rounds (maybe chewed up by velcro straps in my trunk). Not a big deal.
The velcro strap on the stock gloves is great. Very high-quality strap made beautifully with leather on both sides (inside and out) and covering up the edge of the velcro. Many crappy companies use leather only on the outside (inside is plastic) and leave the edge of the velcro exposed where it can peel off over time, and leather stitching…you can see this in my comparison photo above with a cheap Sidekick boxing glove. The way Muhammad stitches his velcro straps, you would have thought it was the most important part of the glove.
The lining is a soft fabric lining. Not the cheap nylon kind but also not the annoying grippy abrasive kind. It’s standard. Neither bad, nor special. It works.
TopBoxer gloves performance
Padding protection (stock gloves)
Standard. The padding feels standard. It’s fine. I can’t speak on it. Not bad or good, just typical boxing glove density. Maybe he made it a special way and it lasts longer…either way, I don’t like punching in 14oz gloves. I would have liked it to be a little thicker…but then again, it’s probably accurate and just fine for 14 oz gloves.
I didn’t use the stock gloves much except for some bagwork testing. And I definitely didn’t spar with it. It’s comfortable and feels fine. Basically a normal glove but made well. This concludes my review for the stock gloves.
Padding protection (custom gloves)
I definitely got more than my money’s worth with these gloves. The padding is so damn cushioned I can see some people’s ego being hurt by not feeling like they can punch hard. If somebody wanted to tell me these were more protective for them than Winning, I wouldn’t argue. Winning has the superior craftsmanship and some details feel more professionally-made but you can’t argue about TopBoxer’s padding. Is it among the BEST?! IS IT?! Yeah…it was for me, 10 out of 10. Probably even a bit more than Winning.
Can we run out the door yet and print that in the newspaper?
Well, that’s unfair to Winning. Winning gloves have been proven by pros for decades. My TopBoxer gloves are the first time I’ve ever worn them and haven’t beaten down on them for even a year yet. Also too, I was able to specify super-cushy padding. So it’s not a fair comparison. Also too, many of you probably won’t have hand problems like me and probably don’t punch with the same level of technique, so you might not even notice the difference.
But one thing is for sure…ask and you shall receive. Muhammad can make the padding of your dreams!
Structural support (custom gloves)
The stock gloves were great and feel normal. The custom gloves feel too wide so I imagined they would’t be as structurally supportive, but I had no issues whatsoever. Maybe this is because the padding did all the work, or maybe because of other support from the glove construction that I couldn’t feel becaus eof all the padding. Either way, they were fine. Maybe I didn’t “feel” the support outright but I also had no issues.
Comfort (custom gloves)
Yes, very comfortable. In actual use, I don’t notice the big size much. I’m sure some people might feel it’s harder to sneak big gloves around your opponent’s defense but that was never my concern. The gloves feel nice. Also, I like the extra holes he poked in the palm-side leather. Hahaha, he kinda went to the extreme. The stock one has more holes than the custom ones.
Fit (custom gloves)
You would think the wide hand-space might be a little annoying but no. This is because the glove is snug to the back of your hand. Now feeling what I feel, I’d say having up-and-down wiggle space in boxing gloves are bad. But left-and-right wiggle space is ok. The TopBoxer gloves only have too much of the latter and once you grip the gloves to make a fist, it really doesn’t matter. Again, they are just a little wide…and not like too big all the way around.
Fist curl (custom gloves)
These are definitely more of an open-hand glove, which I personally like very much. If you compare the images above, you can see their that fingers are more relaxed (open) instead of being already curled up into a fist. This allows me to block and parry more and then choose when I want to tighten my hands for punching. Some of you may prefer different, like the Mexican gloves that are already rolled into a tight fist and always in punching position.
The stock gloves have more of a typical fist curl but not as rolled up as a typical Mexican glove (which is now quickly becoming the standard). If you’re someone who likes a super curled fist, you might hate open-hand gloves because it feels like 5% more work to tighten them into a fist.
Feedback (custom gloves)
The punch is extremely muffled. Even more than Winning gloves. Winning gloves like you’re punching into softish memory foam that lets your fist *smack* the bag a little bit. My custom TopBoxer padding feels like I’m punching into a pile of socks. The impact is dulled heavily. Have you ever thrown a water balloon hard at something and it didn’t pop? That’s the effect of my custom TopBoxer gloves, there’s no bang.
Now is this bad?…it depends.
If you’re some newbie trying to showoff to some guy on the next bag over or the chick by the water cooler, I guess it is. But for me, it’s absolutely perfect. I’ve been boxing for a long time and secure with my punching power. I don’t care about superficial bullshit like impressing other people in the gym. I need absolute maximum protection for my hands and that’s it. These TopBoxer gloves fit the bill perfectly.
But CAN you ask for better feedback or denser padding? Of course, you can. I’m sure if Muhammad can make me a pair of gloves on the extreme side of padding and dulling, he can do something on the other opposite end as well. Just ask and you shall receive!
Weight (custom gloves)
These gloves feel really light on my hands. They may look like 20oz but they feel like 14oz. If you hate the heavy glove feeling, TopBoxer is perfect for you.
I really don’t like the logo. Haha, kinda retro cheesy like an old seamstress label. Maybe you’ll come to like it for nostalgic purposes…but I specified my custom gloves not to have them. Just FYI, they look a little different in person. For example, my stock gloves have a red/white/black logo patch instead of the black/gold he has in most of his photos.
TopBoxer compared against Winning
I think this is a bit of an unfair comparison as these gloves are in different price ranges (Winning is $300-400, TopBoxer is $150). But Winning is the gold standard and many people like TopBoxer gloves as an affordable substitute. In that regard, TopBoxer is most definitely a winner since it delivers excellent protection at such affordable cost.
- Both gloves are 16oz. And yes, the TopBoxer gloves really do look big in person!
No doubt about it, Winning leather is higher quality. Something about the texture, the wrinkles, the sheen, the way it looks and feels. The Winning leather has a classy refined look. The TopBoxer leather has a toyish more plastic look. But just keep in mind that nearly every other brand will appear just as toyish next to Winning gloves.
Both gloves are made with good intentions and careful attention to detail. TopBoxer gloves added little extra bits here and there, like longer bottom edge padding, more holes poked, welted seams, and extra stitching lines.
The Winning gloves clearly have a more experienced hand. The design seems much more perfected and neater. The stitching is effortlessly flawless at first glance. Lines are balanced and spaced evenly. The way the padding is held together makes the glove sit effortlessly. The TopBoxer stock gloves are shaped perfect…but the custom gloves have the padding slightly bulging or bending in some areas and seeming to shape itself differently from the leather (like a someone putting on another person’s shoe by accident).
I feel Winning are higher quality gloves but TopBoxer have more knuckle padding, more protection. It feels like your knuckles never get to impact the target (hahaha). Will have to see if this extra padding actually holds up over time. TopBoxer are REALLLY padded gloves. Giant pillows. If that’s what you want, it’s a real winner.
TopBoxer is more padded on palm-side as well. Lots of more padding around the inside of your wrist and forearms.
Winning feels more curled and closer to a full fist. TopBoxer feels like a half-open hand that you need to squeeze a little to get a fist.
Winning has the more comfortable thumb, especially if you like the straight thumb design. TopBoxer stock gloves are straight thumb but the custom ones are curved.
Winning’s piping is neatly finished at the end of the glove, up the forearm where it’s much less noticeable. TopBoxer’s piping finishes on the bottom of the palm-side, also not so noticeable because of the laces but still easier to find. Does it a make any difference whatsoever? No. And you might even argue TopBoxer’s piping is easier to hide if you have velcro strap.
Winning lining is definitely better for sure; it’s probably the best in the business. Super smooth and slippery, so easy to get your hand in and out of the glove. TopBoxer lining is average. Not a big deal in real world use.
Winning has round laces with unfinished ends. TopBoxer has flat laces with finished ends. If you care, I also feel TopBoxer would seem easier and cheaper to do complicated glove customizations.
Areas of improvement
In my usual fashion of trying to look for any flaws or ways to make gloves better, I found mostly only superficial things:
1. Markings on leather
There are slight chips right on the back hand of the custom gloves. I don’t know if they were drying the gloves in open air and dirt got in or the leather itself was imperfect to begin with. But it’s funny because I never see it with most gloves and yet with TopBoxer, I saw it on both left and right custom gloves.
It’s really minor but I think since they are going towards premium gloves, I will judge them as so. The stock gloves are perfect in this regard.
2. Padding shape
The custom gloves have a visible outward bulge on the palm-side of the glove around the wrist area. You can see where the piping struggles to sit straight. Their stock gloves don’t have this issue at all. And I know why. It’s because when they started putting custom padding, the padding wants to take a different shape.
Is it a big deal? No, I don’t feel it. But I would guess if they could redesign the construction for the super-padded gloves, it will give more structure and support to the wrist area…and also look better when doing photoshoots (haha). Also, this is a dead giveaway his custom design wasn’t refined and perfected yet…I think it takes a decade to do so.
3. Thumb attachment
I feel the thumb attachment on the custom gloves could be adjusted slightly. The issue is when I curl my fingers into a fist, it pulls down on the edge of the thumb (forcing it to curve more when I want it to stay straight). It’s a very slight sensation and not noticeable in real-world use.
But it would be nice if he could either:
- A) Increase the strap length, or
- B) Attach it to the upper edge of the thumb instead of the very tip of the thumb. Might also have to go higher on the side of the index finger as well (towards middle knuckle instead of end knuckle).
I would imagine the first one might look weird as his thumb attachment strap is already standard size. The second option would work perfect but then might release the fist curl even further and make the glove even more open hand (which is probably not what he wants). Anyway, it will be interesting to see where he takes it from here.
Should you buy TopBoxer gloves?
These gloves are an absolute solid buy for me. The stock gloves are very fairly priced. They work fine and built well. But the magic for me starts with the custom gloves. I loved the custom look, how they feel, how they performed. I love that they’re totally different from all my other gloves. Everything is really unique from the shape, to the padding, to the stitching.
TopBoxer really is a completely custom glove (everything built differently) instead of just a “customized glove” (standard built but custom colors/materials). Another thing that blows me away is the price. $150 USD for this pair is so much fun. If you got hand issues or dreaming of just something way out of the norm, TopBoxers are a total steal. I don’t know how much longer this joy ride can go for because I still think they’re priced too low. (They used to be $100/pair and now only went up to $150/pair.) To be able to customize your glove AND talk to the glovemaker directly is not an experience you can find with many brands.
How much do I love my TopBoxer gloves?
- If my house was on fire, my custom TopBoxers would definitely be among the ones saved.
Where to buy TopBoxer gloves
- Buy from his website https://topboxer.com
- Custom gloves are $150 USD (shipping included)
- Stock gloves are $110-120 USD
- You can also buy from his TopBoxer eBay store.
- He also makes other gear like mitts, shields, headgear, etc.
- TopBoxer Instagram (see pictures of his work)
- TopBoxer Facebook page
- TopBoxer Facebook profile (chat with him if you like)
- FYI: TopBoxer also makes gloves for other brands as well. I’ll try not to out anyone but just thought you guys should know.
I’m so happy for his website, it used to be just lots of back and forth via email and chat. You’d lose track of what things were discussed and maybe even forget your options over time. His new website makes it so much easier.
Muhammad, thank you for redeeming the honor of Pakistan glovemakers!