The fight that started the whole Jim Denson-Starplex fiasco, Pipino Cuevas versus Angel Espada for the WBA welterweight championship -- the one Sugar Ray Leonard has yet to claim -- comes off Saturday night in Los Angeles.

Cuevas' "injured" hand got well in a hurry when L.A. money came calling -- the hand that stayed "sore" long enough to kill, first, Denson's grand plan for an outdoor extravaganza in RFK Stadium, and, second, the rescheduled October date in the Armory. You all know what happened in November.

There still is no sweet aroma around the bout, Cuevas having knocked out Espada in the second round to take his title in July 1976 and having stopped him again with a broken jaw in November 1977, yet now finding Espada ranked No. 1 contender.

But you can bet Leonard, and Roberto Duran, and Wilfred Benitez, and Tommy Hearns will be paying attention . . .

Eastern Eight basketball comes to WDCA-TV-20, after all! Even as we were typing this week that it wasn't happening. Channel 20 was signing to show eight presentations out of the package of 10 in 2 p.m. Saturday time slot. Starting with GW-Rutgers, Jan. 12; West Virginia-Duquesne, Jan. 19; GW-WVU, Jan. 26. Climaxing with tourney semis and final from Pittsburgh, Feb. 29 (happy leap year)-March 1 . . .

Before college basketball television floods us (us noncable-TV floodees, that is), a word to the televisers: How about a bit more frequent graphics, or peeks at the scoreboard, as to how things stand? Larry Barrett, a Washington Post printer and ACC fan, pointing out, "there are 14 million deaf in the United States," wishes the score and time remaining were posted more often and such vital stats as "3rd foul on King."

Congratulations, Ossie Grimes and Taft Wright, wherever you are -- you've just broken major league records for runs batted in, most consecutive games.

The official baseball records committee certified the newly discovered feats of Grimes for the Chicago Cubs June 27-July 23, 1922, and Wright for the White Sox May 4-20, 1941. Toss out the listed record of 12 shared by Paul Waner, Joe Cronin and Ted Williams and give Grimes the all-time mark on RBI in 17 straight games played and to Wright (who broke in with the Senators in '39) the AL record, 13.

Oh, and beginning in 1980, the game-winning RBI, tallied in '79 but not a regular feature of baseball's box scores, will appear in the boxes; officials were waiting for required approval by the Players Association, now have it . . .

South African progress report: Apartheidland's amateur boxing association has suspended a white bantamweight fighter for six months because he refused to shake hands with his black opponent (who had stopped him on a cut over the eye) . . .

Johnny Holliday trumpets that his basketball Oneders are set to swing into their 10th year, laden with Redskins again, and open for a few benefit bookings in January-February-March . . . Just as 24 nominees for the Basketball Hall of Fame, for balloting this month and April induction in Springfield, Mass., include Sam Jones and J. Dallas Shirley. And Willis Reed, Jerry West, Oscar Robertson et al. . . .