Burns was defeated on points by the American, 116-112, 117-111, 116-112, on Saturday night and afterwards admitted that "the better man" had won. Burns, though, has no intention of stepping back from the fray.
The 30-year-old has tasted defeat before, but he remains the leading domestic lightweight boxer, and there are other world titles to be fought for. His promoter, Eddie Hearn, insisted after the bout at Glasgow's SECC that the local scene would not interest Burns. "The only reason to go for domestic fights is if they carried a carrot for a world title," he said. "That's unlikely."
Burns was composed afterwards. This was his 10th world title fight and, having come to feel that he belongs at that level, there was no sudden exposure to self-doubt. Hearns insisted that the plan remained for Burns to fight again in Scotland in June or July, and the fighter remained certain of his worth.
"Boxing's all I've ever wanted to do and I will be back," Burns said. "This is just a setback. There are still some big fights out there for me. I'd love to get a rematch, and even fight him in America. Domestically the lightweight division is buzzing, but if I don't get a rematch then [I want to] chase one of the other world titles. I've got another good 10 years in me."
Crawford, who is from Nebraska, did not rule out a rematch, although Hearn suggested it was unlikely. That in itself was an admission that Burns had been defeated by a fighter whose quick, elusive counter-attack style he would always find difficult to match.
"Would I come back to Scotland?" Crawford said. "I like Scotland, it was kind of cool, but we'd probably see how you all like Omaha."
In truth, their paths will now separate. Crawford is climbing towards prominence in America, while Burns will seek to revive his status.