Why doesn’t Cleto Reyes get this lady a set of scales?

I really like Cleto Reyes. I own a pair of lace-up Cleto Reyes training gloves and they’re very high quality: well-padded, well-constructed, and well-balanced. And just as everyone who owns a pair of Cleto Reyes says, they do smell nice.

The general consensus among gear aficionados is that Cleto Reyes rank with the best gloves on the market. Indeed, Cleto Reyes together with Grant and Winning constitute something like a Holy Trinity in the one true religion of gear.

If your gloves are members of the Holy Trinity, then you have The Best Gloves. That’s a fundamental article of faith for many gear aficionados. I confess it’s something to which I am sympathetic, despite my self-styled scepticism.

Cleto Reyes produces its gloves itself in its own factories in Mexico. That’s what it’s been doing for more than 70 years. Cleto Reyes is a genuine manufacturer of gloves, unlike Everlast, Title, and indeed the vast majority of gear companies, whose core and only businesses are design and marketing. There are several other Mexican glove manufacturers, but none of them have the global status and reputation of Cleto Reyes. The paradigmatic Mexican gloves are still those produced by Cleto Reyes.

Ali loved fighting in Cleto Reyes. The gloves are not universally adored, however.

The shape of the thumb is a recurring source of complaint. There are too many people complaining about it for it to be just an imaginary projection of a few hyper-critical consumers. The Reyes thumb is simply uncomfortable for many people’s hands. But that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given the diversity of human hands out there. I personally don’t have any problem at all with the Reyes thumb. Even so, in light of the widespread complaints about it, I would advise you to try on the pair of Cleto Reyes you’re interested in buying before you go ahead and buy them. (I didn’t do that, but fortunately it didn’t matter for me. Others haven’t been so lucky.)

The Reyes thumb is mostly a subjective problem. You may or may not have a problem with the shape of the thumb, depending how the gloves feel to you when you slide your hands into them. A good number of people, including me, obviously don’t have any problem with it, otherwise Cleto Reyes would’ve gone out of business by now. But there is another problem with Cleto Reyes which, in my opinion, is more objective and therefore more serious.

The problem of weight

This problem is usually characterised as follows: the real weight of Cleto Reyes training gloves tends to diverge significantly from the tag weight. But there are really two problems here. One is that the training gloves often weigh more than the tag weight. Another is that one glove in a pair often weighs more than the other one does.

My own pair of Cleto Reyes is mildly afflicted by both of these problems. The tag weight is 16oz, but the left glove comes in at 17.75oz and the right glove comes in at 16.65oz.

Real weight of 16oz tag weight Cleto Reyes
Real weight of 16oz tag weight Cleto Reyes

So my Cleto Reyes are both overweight and unmatched. The left glove is what I consider to be significantly overweight, as its weight is much closer to that of a true 18oz glove than that of a true 16oz glove.

That’s rather modest compared to some of the amazing reports in online discussion forums. There are complaints about extremely overweight and unmatched Cleto Reyes everywhere. A recent example of overweight Cleto Reyes may be found on the Reddit amateur boxing forum, where one guy reports that his 16oz tag weight gloves actually weigh in at 20.20oz and 20.40oz!. That’s a full 25% more than the tag weight. These sorts of facts – and they are facts – about Cleto Reyes are not mere curiosities for gear aficionados. They are problems with potentially negative consequences for training and competition.

Fatigue

First of all, punching with heavy gloves will naturally cause your arms and shoulders to fatigue faster than they would with lighter gloves. Fatigue often leads to bad technique, which deplorable in itself, but can also in turn lead to injury. (For experienced boxers, bad technique is the telltale symptom of fatigue.) In addition, the rapid onset of fatigue can be discouraging and affect your motivation to train. This latter point may seem trivial or silly, but it’s actually not. The psychological and physical aspects of training are interconnected and each one is as important and essential for success as the other.

Injury

Another downside of heavy gloves is that, regardless of your state of fatigue, they increase your risk of injury. The heavier the gloves, the more stress and strain they put on your shoulders. In my experience, the pressure on the shoulders seems to be greatest when throwing hooks. I’ve learnt the hard way to be very careful when throwing left hooks with my 17.75oz Cleto Reyes. The shoulder is a sophisticated rotational mechanism and one of the most injury-prone mechanisms in the human body. Shoulder issues of all kinds are pretty common among boxers, ranging from occasional twinges of pain all the way through to agonising dislocation of the joint.

Speed

Heavy gloves also tend to reduce the speed of your punches. This is a widely reported phenomenon and it’s probably linked to rapid onset of fatigue mentioned above. Slow punching is most salient, of course, during sparring, when your sparring partner slips everything you throw at him while his own punches seem to strike like lightning. Slow punching puts you at a big disadvantage by providing your opponent with more opportunities to counterpunch you. This is dangerous because it increases your risk of sustaining damage. The purpose of sparring is to practise and hone your skills, not unnecessarily absorb counterpunches.

Timing

Training in heavy gloves can play havoc with the timing of your punches when you actually get in the ring and fight with official competition gloves. Amateur boxers will fight in either 10oz or 12oz gloves, while professionals will use either 8oz or 10oz gloves. (And those weights are almost certain to be the actual weights because competition gloves must satisfy official regulations.) If you mostly or exclusively train in gloves weighing in at 18oz or 20oz, you will have probably (unconsciously) adjusted your technique to compensate for the heaviness of your gloves. A sudden reduction of 50% or even upwards of 100% in glove weight will feel weird at best and totally disrupt your timing at worse. Obviously, this will only be compounded if your training gloves are significantly mismatched and you’ve adjusted your technique to compensate for one light glove and one heavy one.

No excuse

I repeat that I really do like Cleto Reyes. But I don’t have much patience for the apologists in online forums who try to defend the company from the complaints people make about the Reyes weight problem.

The most common line of defence is premised on a fanciful and weird appeal to nostalgia about pre-industrial manufacturing practices. Cleto Reyes, according to this defence, produces its gloves by hand. They are “handmade” by “artisans”. And handmade products are bound to exhibit certain irregularities and defects.

But this is delusional. First, workers in the Reyes factories do use machines, as anyone can verify by looking at photos and videos of the Reyes chain of production. The workers presumably directly use their hands also, but as far as I can determine there’s no reason to believe they do so more than the workers who make other brands of glove. Second, and more importantly, the fact is that the Reyes “artisans” do have the capacity to produce “handmade” true-to-weight gloves. There is no doubt about it. They produce true-to-weight fight gloves everyday in satisfaction of the strict regulations of pro boxing organisations.

Another common defence is that Cleto Reyes is not the only glove brand with a weight problem. So we shouldn’t be too hard on Cleto Reyes. After all, everyone’s doing it! And, indeed, even a cursory perusal of the online forums will reveal that many brands also have weight problems.

There are two difficulties with that defence. First, it’s something like an indirect tu quoque argument, and therefore doesn’t achieve much by way of addressing the criticism at hand. The wrongdoings of your commercial rivals don’t necessarily absolve you of your own wrongdoings. Second, Cleto Reyes is not just another glove brand. It’s a world-famous high-end brand and its gloves are very expensive. Other top brands, such as Winning and Grant, don’t seem to come in for anywhere near the amount of weight-related criticism as Cleto Reyes does. And, for what it’s worth, the tag weights (12oz and 16oz) of my own two pairs of Winning are pretty much spot on.

Cleto Reyes has decades upon decades of experience manufacturing boxing gloves. It should be able to consistently produce true-to-weight training gloves by now. There’s no excuse.

Do you own Cleto Reyes training gloves? Let me know what you think about their weight(s) in the comments below!

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Posted by ScepticalBoxer

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