One of the more popular MMA brands is Rival, a fairly recent entry to the fight gear market. They manufacture all manner of fight gear now — from boxing gloves to MMA gear and are one of the most popular companies on the market right now. They cater to boxing and MMA and have a range of products that will cover every gear need you might have or didn’t know you have.
So What’s the Deal with Rival
Rival have made a name for themselves in the marketplace as one of the premier boxing / MMA glove brands in the world, made part because of a design philosophy that aims to merge the classic with modern, taking the best of both.
As such, you’ll find Rival’s products have a modern design aesthetic with an emphasis on new features backed by science (or good marketing or both).
My general feeling toward the Rival brand is a good one. They offer good products with useful features that actually do most of what the company advertises those features are supposed to do. In the fight gear market, this alone makes the company stand out; there’s so much bullshit put there when it comes to hyped up glove features that actually do nothing at all that Rival’s good track record and fairly accurate marketing make them a brand that stands out.
About Rival High Performance Gloves
One of Rival’s most popular gloves — and arguably a good candidate for their best glove yet in my opinion — is the Rival High Performance Sparring Gloves — also known as the ‘RS2V’s or the ‘Rival Sparring Gloves.’
You can get two different version of these gloves: the hook and loop closure and the classic laced up version.
The Hook and Loop version (i.e. Velcro) is called the RS2V while the ‘Lace” version is the RS1. The RS1 is more expensive.
For pure sparring; you might want to go with the lace up RS1 model for a better, tighter fit. However,
for general training or for casual sparring, the hook and loop model may be a better ‘fit’ due to the speed you can put on and take off the gloves.
Overall, I’m mightily impressed with Rival’s High Performance Boxing gloves. They are good to look at, feature a nice balance of padding and stiffness, and feel — and function — excellently when sparring or just hitting the bag. For under $130 bucks, you get a lot of ‘bang’ for your buck with these gloves, making them a standout pick for a mid-range boxing glove, especially one well-suited for sparring.
Rival Sparring Glove Models
Like all major glove makers, Rival offers a variety of different boxing glove models, targeting different needs and, more importantly, different price ranges. They have quite a few sparring glove models, which I will cover here, so you know what’s available — and so you have a base of comparison for when I review the High Performance Sparring model.
These are all (as of 2016) Rival’s sparring glove models.
These are the same as the RSV2, but with a lace system instead of velcro. For pure sparring, they are better due to the tighter fit. However, because of the lace, they are difficult to put on and take off.
I’ve included a few of the bag gloves as well, though these are irrelevant as a comparison for this review (we are discussion sparring gloves, not bag gloves).
These are Rival’s higher rated bag gloves. The gloves have a mesh ventilation area in the front to allow for improved airflow and strong wrist support. These are one of the more expensive Rival glove models and costs about 110 USD.
Rival High Performance Boxing Gloves Review
Below I give a detailed review of every aspect of the Rival High Performance Sparring gloves, looking specifically at the wrist support, the padding, the aesthetics, the overall quality, how comfortable they are, the durability, and finally the cost. I’ll then give a list of PROS and CONS, then wrap the review up.
This is by far the most comprehensive review of these gloves you’ll find. It’s my goal, by the end of this review, to help you decide if these are the gloves for you, or not.
Protection and Padding
I divide protection and padding into two categories: wrist support and padding.
Velcro Model (RSV2)
One of the big selling points with the Rival High Performance Hook and Loop model is their “Ergo Xtrem Strap System” which is basically two Velcro straps that you pull in opposite directions with an elongated wrist area that extends down the forearm. The double straps pulling in reverse directions is a rather unusual way to strap your gloves as most other gloves have a single strap that pull one direction.
The advantages, however, are clear once you really tighten the straps. Pulling each strap tight applies a tighter squeeze to the wrist, adding more stability to the glove. The trade off here is that you have to do it twice.
With one hand glove-free, pulling each strap closed is no problem, but with both gloves on and the straps pulled tight, it can be a bit finicky to pull them free especially since the straps are narrow (far more narrow than say a TWINS Velcro strap) and you may have problems gripping the end of each strap with the other glove on. You may be forced to use your mouth in this case (which to be honest, is not all that unusual even with the more traditional Velcro straps.
The bottom line is that for a Velcro glove, this unique system gives you more support and stability than is usual, going part of the way to make up SOME of the differences between a lace and velcro glove.
The combination of the double straps and longer tapered wrist area do make the High Performance model stand out as one of the best wrist-supporting boxing gloves I’ve tried.
Lace Model (RS1)
The laced model (RS1) has a criss-crossed lace design that pulls down at an angle for a tighter fit. I do like this design better than some of the more traditional gloves that don’t angle down the laces. The angle lets you tighten the gloves more securely.
Other than the lace design, the rest of the glove is exactly the same as the Velcro model with BOTH models offering plenty of wrist support and overall protection.
When fully tightened the Rival High Performance gloves give you some of the best wrist support out of any glove on the market — especially at the under $140 range.
The shape of the glove tapers down and rides a long way up your wrist without being too long that it impairs your arm movement. I find this about the ideal balance. I personally prefer slightly longer wrist support on gloves as it does provide more overall wrist protection and stability.
The padding is overall pretty good. It’s not as well padded as the top tier gloves like Winning, but considering those gloves are about double the price, you can’t really compare. Against the Thai-style gloves, the padding is superior for the most part.
And I’ve found it compares well to other MMA brands like Venum, IMF, and Hayabusa.
For a sparring glove (remember, sparring gloves typically have softer padding while bag gloves have harder padding), the padding is pretty good — even when hitting hard surfaces like a bag. While these are advertised as ‘sparring boxing gloves’ the reality is that most people will probably use them for both, especially if they bought a 12 or 14-ounce version of the glove.
It seems Rival anticipated this usage because the gloves fully protect your fists — and knuckles — when punching the heavy bag. Typically, unless you a professional boxer, you won’t be able to punch through these gloves on the heavy bag.
This means you won’t have sore knuckles or at least a reduced chance of such with these gloves.
Overall, I’m very much impressed with these gloves. They are primary a sparring glove, but you can certainly use them just fine for general training too, especially if you get yourself the Hook and Loop version over the lace. Just keep in mind that the softer padding of these gloves means they wear out faster if you hit the heavy bag or pads with them.
Overall, these gloves are attractive. I find the laced version (RS1) better looking than the velcro (RSV2).
The Laced Model:
The Velcro Model:
Mostly, they represent the aesthetic design that most of the MMA companies seem to be embracing rather than the old school classic boxing glove look that some of other companies go for.
I feel if you train MMA, these gloves will fit right in with the other gloves in your gym. For pure boxing or Muay Thai gyms, you won’t find so many other gloves that look similar to these as those gyms are mostly stacked with traditional boxing or Muay Thai glove designs.
You can get these gloves, if you order the Hook and Loop model, in three colors: black, red, and white. The color scheme is not monotone, however, but combines a dominant color (red, white, or black) with white and gold.
I generally do like the color scheme, especially the bright red and white color tone. The black color scheme is the least flashy, but I also find it the most boring (I’m particularly to the red and white color).
The bottom line: they look good and are not excessively flamboyant — most of the ‘flash’ comes from the mixing of two color schemes and the unique look of the double strap area.
The Rival High Performance are quality gloves; the craftsmanship and engineering is evident based on the feel of the gloves and the attention to minor details. The gloves are made from leather (rather than synthetic leather or vinyl) and are well constructed overall.
The gloves feel stiff yet not too stiff, the stitching is tight and made with a double threading (as any decent glove should be).
The gloves feel and look good — and for the $140 you pay for them, you don’t feel like you are getting a cheaply-made product.
The gloves don’t have that ‘wow’ feeling when you touch them that you get with one of the premium gloves and the craftsmanship is not anything near to the craftsmanship of Winning or Grant (which are double the price).
Overall, these are a middle of the ground glove in terms of quality and construction — better than the economy gloves but not at the level of the premium gloves.
I find the Rival High-Performance gloves are quite comfortable. Certainly better than many of the competing brands. Hands down, I do prefer using these for sparring over most of the Thai-branded Muay Thai gloves. Compared to the other boxing gloves produced by Venum, Hayabusa, Ringside, and TITLE, I would rate this a cut above the rest, but a bit below Hayabusa comfort wise.
There’s not much to complain here, though. The gloves are comfortable to wear.
If you pay $140ish for a pair of gloves, you want to be sure you get your money’s worth. While I haven’t had my pair of Rival High-Performance gloves for years yet, they have lasted and look remarkably good, even after heavy use.
My feeling is they will last you for several years of heavy use.
I can update this section in a year or so after the gloves have had a full dose of Thailand’s humidity and we’ll see how they hold up to the other brands.
These gloves are priced in the upper mid-range. You can pick them up on Amazon for about $130 USD for the most common size (16 ounces).
Considering what you get for under 150 dollars, I say these gloves are well priced. Yes, you can get a ‘better’ pure leather glove from some of the Thai companies, such as Fairtex for around 70-80 USD, but you’ll be getting a classic Muay Thai style glove and not a more boxing orientated glove.
Hand down; these are better than the budget boxing glove offerings from the likes of Venum, TITLE, IMF, and RIVAL’s cheaper gloves. Those looking for a better glove without breaking the bank won’t feel like they are overpaying for these.
Perhaps these are about similar in price and performance to the Hayabusa Fightwear Tokushu Regenesis, though the Hayabusa offers more ‘special’ features, though I’m a bit on the doubtful side about how effective all those features are at actually giving you a better boxing experience.
So my feeling here is that these are the best boxing glove that’s around the $130 range. If you want a more premium boxing glove, you are going to have to move into the $160-200ish range which will net you, Cleto Reyes. If you want the Grant or Winning experience, you are going to have to move high into the 200’s.
I feel the gloves are slightly overpriced, however. The gloves would be better priced at about $99-110, rather than $130. The reason being is that for another 30 or 40 dollars, you can have yourself one of the lower model premium glove brands.
However, regardless, for about 110-140 bucks, you still get an excellent glove for your money. Note that the laced version are more expensive (about 20-30 dollars more) than the Velcro model.
PROS & CONS
- Amazing wrist support — one of the most supportive wrist out of all the glove brands/models
- Angled wrist strap allows for a better fit when closed (on velcro model)
- Made from leather, not synthetic
- Well padded at the front area which reduced knuckle soreness
- Appealing design
- Difficult to unlatch glove (in Velcro models) when both gloves are on
- Gloves can be difficult to remove during training (you may need to use your teeth to unlatch)
- Gloves take longer to strap on and strap off than regular gloves
- a bit on the expensive side for $130
The Final Word
The Rival High Performance Sparring Gloves stand out as one of the best mid-range boxing gloves on the market. They compare well against the Hayabusa, which is the other glove of note that have models priced roughly in the same range. The other gloves by TITLE, Ringside, and Venum are all priced between the 70-90 range, but deliver a lesser glove in terms of quality of construction and fit (though some of the gloves are still excellent value).
The Rival High Performance are an excellent glove for sparring. In fact, one of the best mid-range pure sparring boxing gloves on the market. If you are looking for general training gloves, you are best off looking at a non-sparring glove.
Personally, between the lace and Velcro, I prefer the RSV2 (Velcro version) for regular training. The excellent wrist support and angled reverse straps allow you to really pull these tight, so they fit snugly. You don’t really need the hassle of the laced model because the Velcro do an excellent job on their own.
Additionally, if you use the Velcro (RSV2) model, you can still use them for bag and pad work, if you wish, though you damage the padding and make them less suitable for sparring over the long run if you do. But the option remains.
For serious hard sparring, though (or if you only intend to use them for sparring), get the Lace version.
If you want one of the better wrist-supporting ‘under 150 dollars’ sparring gloves on the market, you are going to be hard pressed to find anything in this price range better than Rival. The only other alternative is Hayabusa’s sparring glove, but this really comes down to personal preference.