2004-07-31 Erik Morales w pts 12 Carlos Hernandez, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA - IBF/WBC
2004-07-31 Erik Morales w pts 12 Carlos Hernandez, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA - IBF/WBC. Referee: Vic Drakulich. Scorecards: 115-113, 119-109, 119-109. In a battle to unify two titles, Morales (130) proved to be the master of Hernandez (130), picking his shots well from both hands, especially when doubling up with accurate rights followed by solid uppercuts. To Hernandez’s credit he took everything that Morales could throw unflinchingly and was always looking to get off left hooks to head and body, but try what he might he was generally outworked. Getting more competitive as it went on, the final session saw both men belting away two-handedly as they looked to impress the judges and both finished exhausted at the bell. Despite it being a tough fight there were no knockdowns, but Morales, cut over the left eye in the fourth and on the right eye in the 11th, finished the more marked up of the pair.
In late September, Morales forfeited the IBF title when he failed to ask for an exception to defend against Marco Antonio Barrera on 27 November, the fight going ahead for the WBC crown only. In the wake of that, Robbie Peden and Nate Campbell were matched to contest the vacant IBF title. Although Campbell had been beaten in an eliminator by Peden (l co 5 at the Pechanga Entertainment Centre, Temecula, California on 14 March 2004) he had qualified for the number two spot by beating Daniel Attah (w pts 12 at the Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Connecticut on 9 January 2004) and Edelmiro Martinez (w disq 4 at the Mohegan Sun Casino on 30 July 2004) in further eliminating bouts.