Heavyweight Gerry Cooney's camp wasn't fooling about his left hand being too sore to fight; now, an operation at NYU Hospital. Dr. Charles Malone says, "We corrected an old injury to the ligament near his left middle knuckle, removed bone spurs and chips from around the joint and repaired a torn tendon."

The doctor expects Cooney can spar in three months; his managers say they hope to have him in action in November. His scheduled 1983 comeback bout against Philip Brown, postponed from June to July to September, now is canceled . . .

In Paterson, N.J., ex-contender Tony Ayala Jr. facing minimum 15 years imprisonment for sexual assault, asked to serve his time in Passaic County Jail rather than a state prison. All right, says Sheriff Edwin J. Englehardt, who gave him the option because he's a "model prisoner. I've got 600 prisoners (including 200 state inmates) and I wish they all were like him" . . . In Honolulu, junior lightweight ex-champ Rolando Navarrete fights Nacho Jimenez Tuesday and the woman who accused Navarrete of kidnaping and rape in a pineapple field in April (case pending) has sued to attach his purse as part of a $350,000 civil suit . . .

Promoter Bob Arum furbishes new WBA junior middleweight champion Roberto Duran's triumphant return to cheers of 500,000 Panamanians with mention that Duran might fight Marvin Hagler for Hagler's middleweight belt in November--maybe in Miami's Orange Bowl; maybe a $10 million payday for each camp.